Designed to make you want to read books!

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

The Crown of Approval - February 2012

This months Crown winner might be a surprise to some people. Not only were there a lot of great books, but also our first ever guest review to consider. This months winner has a talent for storytelling. Even faced with some tough competition, this book outshone the others. This months Crown of Approval winner is The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt!
What I found so enthralling about this book is how the author was able to make a simple idea into such a captivating story. I loved this story from beginning to end, but what really got me about this book was it's universal appeal. I don't typically enjoy the Western genre of books, but this was one of my all time favorite reads and any author that can write a book that can convert me to their genre is great in my books. The characters were memorable and even the horse Tub added a lot to the story. This book was strongly recommended to me and it was a pleasant surprise. It takes a great author to take an idea and turn it into something great and Patrick DeWitt has exceeded all expectations. This is my February pick and I strongly recommend it to all of you!

Monday, 27 February 2012

Book Review - Mockingjay

It has taken me much too long to get to this book and it has been driving me crazy, so I was very excited to read it this week. The final book in The Hunger Games series did not disappoint.
The life Katniss once led has completely disappeared. Peeta is in the hands of the capital and district 12 has been completely destroyed. Thanks to Gale, a few hundred people managed to escape the districts destruction but there's no word from her family.
On the road to a slow recovery, Katniss is adjusting to life in a place she didn't know still existed. District 13. With the shocking end to the last Hunger Games, unrest in the districts has finally peaked and Katniss is thrown into the revolution headfirst. As the voice of the revolution, she must be strong for the people and President Coin of District 13 believes the best way to do this is to run constant video promos of her efforts to fight the capitol. But the capitol is going to fight fire with fire. Peeta has been hijacked into working for President Snow. Things aren't looking good. It is decided that a rescue mission must be put into actionand it becomes a success. But something is wrong. Peeta isn't himself. And Katniss is in danger. The capitol is trying to destroy everything that Katniss holds dear and will do anything to hurt her. But she is the Mockingjay. And she is going to kill President Snow.
Suzanne Collins brings The Hunger Games series to a thrilling conclusion. She plays with your emotions and surprises you at every corner. And most importantly to some people, Katniss finally chooses between Gale and Peeta. If you haven't already read it, you don't want to miss this book. Everybody needs this on their shelf.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Author Bio - Suzanne Collins

Suzanne Collins was the daughter of an Air Force officer. Some of Collins’s earliest memories are of young men in uniform drilling at West Point, where her father, who later made lieutenant colonel, was on loan from the Air Force, teaching military history. As a child, her family moved around frequently, never staying in one place for very long. It was at age 6 when Collins' family moved to Indiana and her father went off to Vietnam. After his return, her father has remained a great influence on her life. In 1991, her writing career began  for children's television where she worked for Nickelodeon. She was also the head writer at Scholastic for Clifford's Puppy Days.
What Collins thinks matters a great deal to her fans, although they rarely hear from her directly. Collins has always been a media-shy figure, given to few public pronouncements, most of them carefully packaged. She is very slow to feel her new found fame in her everyday life and prefers to keep her fame at-arms-length. Despite being camera-shy, Collins is a very confident and entertaining individual displaying none of the anxiety seen in some of her interviews. Unlike other famous authors, before her success in writing she lived in relative obscurity. As far as The Hunger Games, her father has been a huge influence. In the series, Collins tries to embrace her father's impulse to educate young people about the realities of war.
She currently lives in Connecticut with her family and a pair of feral kittens they adopted from their backyard. With the release of Mockingjay, The Hunger Games Trilogy is now complete. Look forward to my review next week!

Monday, 20 February 2012

Book Review - Acts of Courage: Laura Secord and the War of 1812

I strongly believe that you have to give every book genre a chance. Historical fiction has always been one of those genres that I've shied away from, but this novel took me completely by surprise.
Before she was Laura Secord, she was young Laura Ingersoll. Her family is surrounded by war with the rebels and her father is a ranking member of the military. He is rarely home and Laura longs to see him more. In his absence she finds herself making the acquaintance of one of the rebels. Her kindness towards this boy begins a longstanding relationship that she will never forget. As Laura grows older, her family relocates to Queenston in Upper Canada where they want to start a new life. Her family is greeted by a helpful young man named James Secord who helps them to adjust to this new world. He also takes quite a fancy to Laura. Times grow progressively more dangerous and Laura finds herself all grown up with a family to look after. With war fast approaching between Canada and the States, her family is in danger. With her husband on the front lines, Laura lives a life of constant worry. How will she fare when war descends on Upper Canada?
Follow the life of Laura Secord from her childhood through to her historic journey to warn Lieutenant FitzGibbon of the invading American army. Her courage shines like a beacon that we can all admire.
One of the things I really loved about historical fiction is that even though the story is based on fact the author has the ability to put their own spin on the story. A moment in history that may not have even caught my attention was able to draw me in and capture my interest. I was surprised by this book and I sincerely enjoyed it. For anyone who has reservations about trying a new genre, this was the first time I've stepped out of my comfort zone when it came to reading books and I really enjoyed it. If you don't try anything new you may be missing out on something special. My goal for you is to go out and try something new! This was a very interesting book and it's a good read if you're looking to step out of your regular genre.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Guest Book Review by Gina Macdonald - The Perfect Order of Things

After I finished reading David Gilmour’s newest novel, The Perfect Order of Things, I immediately sat down and downloaded War and Peace on my Kobo, listening to the Beatles as I began.
Why? Gilmour’s novel, narrated by his fictional counterpart from many of his previous works, discusses the connection he feels with Tolstoy and his deep love for Beatles music, among many other things. Gilmour’s wit and intelligence shine through the prose, making each chapter so persuasive and engaging it was almost impossible for me to put the book down.
The novel is based on the narrator’s quest to go back and revisit many moments in his past in order to better understand his life, and ultimately to get ready for death, as he so bluntly puts it. The reader follows him back to events like his experience meeting Robert De Niro at TIFF, slapping a reviewer across the face after a bad Globe and Mail book review, taking too many OxyContins on a trip to Jamaica, and talking to his son Nick about lost love and how to deal with it, to name a few.
I was so impressed with Gilmour’s ability to weave his stories together through the narrator, and to make it seem as if I was reading a factual autobiography when it was really just fictional accounts of real events in Gilmour’s life. The book is short, only about 250 pages, but the amount of involvement I had in the story made it seem like I was experiencing all of the events right along with him.
Gilmour’s dry humour is apparent through the novel, and he is able to express the simplest of feelings with only a few words. For example, the first time he hears the Beatles’ “I Saw Her Standing There”, he says it “made me want to throw something, swear, scream out the window, as if my young body simply could not contain the sensations it was experiencing.” Anyone who’s ever been so affected by a piece of music knows exactly what Gilmour means.
It’s prose like that that made this book such a pleasure to read, and I would definitely recommend this to anyone, as I think every reader can relate to at least one of Gilmour’s expertly written chapters.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Author Bio - Connie Brummel Crook

Connie was born in 1930 in Ameliasburg, Ontario Canada. She taught English in secondary schools for 30 years and her choice to write historical fiction came from her desire to bring to life our Canadian heritage for the students in her classroom. After she attended elementary school near Belleville, she moved to a farm near Peterborough, then to a farm north of Norwood, where she walked three miles to high school every day. Currently, all but one of her books are still in print and a number of them are set to become eBooks. Connie's life has been filled with great achievements. In 1998, Connie addressed the students of Norwood  District High School and was inducted into their hall of fame. In 2000, she became one of the honorable inductees into Peterborough's Pathway of Fame. Last but not least, in 2008 Connie received the Leslie K. Tarr Award for Outstanding Career Achievement. She has written a number of books, most notably her Meyers family saga. Keep your eyes out for her newest book Acts of Courage: Laura Secord and the War of 1812 coming next week!  

"I am fulfilling my dreams—as a teacher and author—in writing for children and young adults. I think of my past students always when I write and try to keep my stories adventuresome and exciting."

Breakfast with Alan Lightman 2.0

So today was an exciting day for me, I got to go down to the offices of Random House and have breakfast with one of the authors, Alan Lightman, along with a number of people from Chatelaine!
As usual, aside from Alan, I was the only guy in the room. Someone was kind enough to point this out to everyone. There were a ton of people from marketing there, including Lindsey from Random House that I was able to speak (though not in nearly as much depth as I wanted to) as well as the marketing intern for Chatelaine and some other great people! It was a treat to hear all about the different marketing teams and the kinds of things they get to do. I also thought it was most interesting to hear how many events the intern got to be a part of! It was a very educational day as well as an exciting one. Alan was very well spoken and an overall friendly person. Despite his incredible education and list of achievements I was very impressed to see that he was not at all condescending. Getting to speak with all these people today just makes me that much more excited to join the industry in the next few months!

Monday, 13 February 2012

Book Review - Mr. g

The concept behind this story was intensely interesting. Normally books about the creator, God, are highly religious in nature and the story is always told from our perspective. This is the first time I've come across a book that tells the tale of creation from His perspective.
People have always talked about how the universe began and there have been many theories as to how it all began. Alan Lightman takes the story in a completely new direction. In a slightly comical way, he explains how God decided to create the universe after waking up form a long nap. It takes us through the entirety of the universe from the creation of matter in The Void, to the peak of civilization, all the way to the faint ebb of life at the end of everything.
As a source of quirky humor, and a source of inspiration, the characters of uncle Deva and aunt Penelope are introduced alongside Mr g. Rather than discovering the universe, imagine the splendor that these three must feel at watching the universe unfold in front of their very eyes. This book describes an entirely new experience that will unleash your imagination.
Alan Lightman masterfully crafts the untold story of the beginning of the universe. In a tale that gives you a rare glimpse of the opposing perspective, you will experience everything we know as it happens. All from the side of a man who lives with his aunt and uncle. Anybody that likes an interesting concept will love this book, I highly recommend it.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Author Bio - Alan Lightman

Born in 1948 and raised in Memphis, Tennessee. From an early age he was interested in both science and the arts. By age seven, he had a chemistry set and burned a hole in the rug. He also built something like a tesla coil. When he turned it on, it knocked out every TV in the neighborhood. The neighbors became very wary of him. He used to fire off rockets that came down in their backyards or through their windows, so they gave him a wide berth. Excelling in both science and the humanities, he won city and state-wide science fairs as well as the state-wide competition for the National Council of Teachers of English award. He earned his Ph.D. in theoretical physics in 1974, was a professor at Harvard in the 1970's,  he was the first professor at MIT to have a joint appointment in science and the humanities, and from 1979 to 1989 a research scientist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. In 2003, Lightman founded the Harpswell Foundation, which is a nonprofit organization that works to empower a new generation of women leaders in Cambodia. Lightman's novel Einsteins Dreams was a bestseller and has been translated into thirty languages. Alan's current book Mr g is also a bestseller and will be up for review next week!

Monday, 6 February 2012

Book Review - The Sisters Brothers

So I only found out that this book was a Western after I bought it but I am so glad I did. This was the first Western I've ever read and I'm always happy to try out a new genre.
Eli and his brother Charlie are guns for hire. Their mission is to take out the target passed onto them by their boss, The Commodore. In the middle of a gold rush, they come across some of the most
self-centered, evil men around. The brothers have to be on their toes if they want to survive all of the backstabbing corrupted people out to find enough riches for a lifetime. In a never-ending battle, the brothers acquire fortunes from the wealthiest of men, killing as they go. Staying true to their reputation, they are the fiercest men alive. While they can have whatever they want whenever they want it, Eli has a horse named Tub. Tub isn't the greatest horse alive, and in fact he's a little slow. But even with enough money to buy a thousand horses, Eli can't bring himself to part from his trusty steed. The bond between a man and his horse supercedes all else until a cruel twist of fate destroys everything they've ever worked for. Can the brothers outlive their reputation or will they fall to the masses? Only time will tell.
This book is the perfect example of a very straightforward idea turned into an enthralling story with great depth. The conversation carries this book. By the end, the characters are so real and so relatable that you feel like you know them personally. I really enjoyed this book and I would read it all over again. Don't pass up this award winning book, I strongly recommend it.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Guest Review!

As much as I enjoy reviewing books myself, it isn't often that I get to experience other peoples views in such depth. I know all of you read books and I would love to give you the chance top have a more active role in this site.
For the first time ever, Boow Reviews will have a guest review post. Someone other than myself will write a review and have it featured on my page. The fun part is that it could be you!
Anyone interested in submitting a review will have a chance to do so. Simply email your review to me at by next Saturday, February 11th. One of these reviews will be selected to be featured on my page shortly after and the writer will receive full credit for their work. I'm sure everyone has something interesting to say and I am excited to see what you all have to offer. Please send your reviews in by next weekend to be eligible! Please provide your full name and the title of the book you have reviewed.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Author Bio - Andrew DeWitt

Patrick DeWitt was born in 1975 on Vancouver Island in British Columbia. Despite his current success, Patrick used to work as a dishwasher and a bartender before he wrote his first novel Ablutions.
He was one of two Canadian writers to be nominated for: The Man Booker Prize, Scotiabank Giller Prize, Rogers Writers Trust Fiction Prize, and the Governor General's Award for English Language Fiction in 2011.
Character names are hard to come by, they're something that comes with time. Patrick shares some inspiration for an as yet unused character name. Glancing at his lawnmower he noticed the name (Murray) and the brand (Mulcher) and he created a downtrodden failure of a character from his lawnmower, Murray Mulcher. His lawnmower may have been broken at the time. 
Patrick is a very introverted and reclusive person and shares very little personal information about himself, but he is a fantastic writer.
His new novel The Sisters Brothers, which won two awards, nearly didn't make it. His work was saved from a grant that allowed him to keep writing and eventually win The Man Booker Prize and The Governor Generals Award this year. If not for this, he would currently be working a construction job.
The Sisters Brothers is Patrick's second novel and it was an exceptional read. Keep and eye out for the review next week!

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Breakfast with Alan Lightman!

I received an invitation, about a week, ago inviting me and a select group of other people to have breakfast at Random House with Alan Lightman, the author of bestselling books Mr g and Einstein's Dreams! If that wasn't exciting enough already, I'll probably get the chance to ask him a few questions. So what I wanted to ask you all is what do you want to know about him?
Post a comment with any questions you have below and hopefully I'll have an interesting bit of information to bring back to you. The deadline to post your questions will be February 15th. This is going to be all for you guys so let me know!