Top Ten Books I’ve Read Since I Started Blogging!

(a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish)

This week we have been asked to list the top ten books we’ve read during the lifespan of our blogs.  My blog will be 1 soon!  Here are the top ten books I’ve read this past year:

1. The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson – great story.  great characters. powerful storytelling. a beautiful read.

2. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – SO much fun! A girl who kicks ass and has two cute boys vying for her attention?  What’s not to love?

3. The Awakening by Kate Chopin – oh what women have gone through…

4.  The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan – an absolute fun, fun time!

5.  The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson – cool.  intriguing story.

6.  Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – I didn’t write a review or my thoughts on this one…but it is a long-time favourite that I love to re-read every so often

7. The Happiest Toddler on the Block by Harvey Karp PhD. – because I’ve become the toddler-ese Queen (toddler-ese is toddler language)!  Yes, this language still works with a very upset pre-schooler.  This book helped me to communicate with my son – it is remarkable to see his eyes light up when he feels understood and validated.

8. Splat the Cat books by Rob Scotton – have you read Splat the Cat?  Your toddler/preschooler will love Splat.  He is funny and whimsical.  The stories are highly creative (yet, simple) and the art is brilliant.  Please read Splat the Cat to a child near you.

Share yours with me in the comments below or at The Broke and the Bookish through the above link.

Top Ten Tuesday: Beach Reads

(a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish)

Heading to the beach this summer? If you’re looking for something to read while you’re desperately trying to keep sand from sticking to your sunscreen or while you’e sneaking an extra five minutes of sunshine during your lunch break maybe my Top Eight Beach Reads can help.

Why not 10? You ask (considering it’s Top Ten Tuesday).

I had lots of trouble concocting this list – and I realized why.  I’ve spent the past several years reading classics, reading essays, reading literary theory, and devising all sorts of creative ways to deliver English curriculum in a captivating way to high school students.  Little time was left for reading things I wanted to read…even my summers were eaten up by reading for the school year.

Starting this blog was a way to get back in touch with the “Me-Who-Reads-for-Pleasure” (I really liked her).  I’m sad that I can’t offer more scintillating beach reads, but I realize that that might be where I want to go with my reading/blog: read more modern titles, and perhaps, lighter titles, too.

Well, here are some books that I think will keep you entertained this summer:

1.  The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson – a must-read for any true romantic.  Love that survives 700 years, masterful story telling, stories within a story, archetypal imagery…simply put, riveting, beautiful, will stay with you.  Hmmm, I think I really liked this book

2. Wildflower Hill by Kimberley Freeman – a story of two different time periods: post WWII Scotland and Australia; modern-day Australia and England.  A granddaughter discovering the secrets of her grandmother’s life as she combs through the old sheep station she inherited from her grandmother.  A moving story of love, family history, self-discovery and relationships.

3.  Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert – a wonderful story that will make you totally envious that your employer doesn’t give you a $30K advance on your next book so you can travel the world and find yourself.  Seriously though, if you can’t travel, this book will take you to three awesome countries with loads of laughs, moments of sadness, nostalgia, and hope.

4.  The Help by Kathryn Stockton – hilarious, sad, thought-provoking.  Oh what women do…

5.  The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin – maybe this is your summer to do something wonderful for yourself…like become happy…or, happier.  The Happiness Project will offer many ideas to help you get there – without being overbearing or preachy.

6, 7, 8.  The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins – The Hunger GamesCatching FireMockingjay (yes, I cheated by numbering each individually…but, unless you’d like to read some essays on King Lear, you’ll go with it).  Fun, fun, fun.

So, I hope there’s something there for everyone…my mission: come up with a better list for next year.

What are your summer favourites?


Can Love Survive 700 Years? The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson Says Yes

It was the cover: a woman’s naked back tattooed with angel’s wings and a glowing red heart at her center.  It was the cover that immediately grabbed me and shook me out of my dulled pacing while I waited to pick up my son from nursery school.  Then, I read the title.  The Gargoyle.  I am a lover of all things Parisian – this book held promise.

I felt its cover and turned the book over curious for more information.  “…story of one man’s descent into personal hell and his quest for salvation”, I like that; and, “…love that transcends the boundaries of time”, that got me; and, “…the immortal power of storytelling” sold it.

Davidson ensnares me with the opening line – and every subsequent word spins a tale that I gladly immerse myself in.

I loved the great lengths that Davidson went through to make his story so believable.  Every detail about the narrator’s experience, from his accident, to the burn ward, the many surgeries, wrapping/unwrapping, sloughing off of dead skin made me tingle and shiver.  It was a horrific fascination with pain, both physical and emotional.  I could not read enough and Davidson delivered.

The narrator’s trauma is finally tempered by the entrance of a mysterious character: strong, fierce, passionate, schizophrenic.  Marianne Engel will convince any skeptic that reincarnation is a fact and any cynic that love, true love, is not limited by the restrictions of place or time.  Her rope-like hair and wild aspect mark her; she is outside of social conventions.  Her tattooed body brings forth questions of faith; a topic that is also outside the social norms of polite conversation.  Marianne Engel slaps you in the face with questions of God, angels, faith and love. We cannot turn away.  We are forced to struggle with our own sense of faith.  What do I believe?  Davidson creates a complex, intricate character that will bring lively discussion to any reading group!

Marianne Engel tells various love stories throughout the novel.  All of them magical, mystical, inconceivable and irresistible.  I found myself eagerly awaiting each one.  They were like four short stories that helped to release the tension of the main plot and that took me away from the pain of the protagonist.  Each one ultimately showed the awesome power of pure love.  Her main story is a wildly passionate, archetypal love story that supposedly took place between her and the narrator 700 years ago.   And, just as the narrator becomes slowly convinced of the veracity of the story, I did too.  I fell in love with the story of how their love began and eagerly awaited for Marianne Engel to reveal each chapter.  Ultimately, Davidson convinced me that the only feeling that matters is love; as long as there is love, we can survive.  Admittedly, with me, that task wasn’t exactly a difficult one.  I am a hopeless romantic and I love a good love story.  Reading The Gargoyle certainly fulfilled that for me without any sappy, mushy modern notions of romance.

I believe readers will be fascinated by Marianne Engel, tormented by the narrator and swept away by Davidson’s powerful narratives about relationships with the self, others and God.  Above all, the core of this novel is love and Davidson eloquently convinced me that love will not fall to the trials of human brutality, suffering nor the passage of time.