What’s not to love about these “Bob” books? They tell the heartwarming—and true– story of a down-on- his- luck young man and a homeless cat and how each gets a second chance in life.
Author James Bowen was a recovering heroin addict, estranged from his family and surviving by busking on the streets of London, England. One cold winter’s day he encountered Bob, a hungry, injured and homeless cat. James makes the life-changing decision to adopt Bob. Bob, in return, offers James companionship, unconditional love and the chance to be responsible for someone other than himself.
Apparently they made quite a sight, a tall, scruffy-looking “bloke” walking the streets with a ginger cat perched on his shoulders—or, alternatively, travelling on the bus together.
Before Bob, James felt invisible and marginalized on the London streets. But with Bob in tow, he drew all kinds of warm, friendly attention. Though there were also encounters with nasty, unpleasant people, not to mention nasty, unpleasant dogs wanting to sink their teeth into Bob. Even a scary snake comes into the story.
These are wonderful books. I loved the close bond between James and Bob and even more how James was able to turn his life around. The author comes across as decent and seems pretty honest about the mistakes he’s made in life. And Bob? I have to admit it, I’m a cat person. So I thought Bob was intelligent, charming and—excuse me– just about purrfect.
– – Penny D.
I do so love a great suspense read – one that leaves my heart beating with twists and turns that I didn’t see coming a mile away. As a fairly avid suspense reader I have to give kudos to writers who can still leave me quaking in my seat even though I think I’ve ‘seen it all’. Here are some good ‘edge of your seat’ reads to try here at WPL.
Blood Always Tells by Hilary Davidson – Davidson doesn’t waste time getting to the suspense. This book is intriguing, full of twists and is told from three points of view — Dominique, her brother Desmond and then a fairly tertiary character. Fans of Myron Bolitar will enjoy Desmond who is the big brother swooping in to save the day. He is a strong, smart and believable main character and I would love to see more of him. The pace, character development and complexity of the mystery are all well done via multiple layers within the story. This is a story of family and how they influence who we become (good or bad), revenge, murder and deceit.
Deja Dead by Kathy Reichs (#1 in the Temperance Brennan series – 17 books so far in total) — As Temperance Brennan, a forensic anthropologist in Quebec, investigates the case involving a dismembered body she suspects the case may be linked to the torture killing of a teen many years before. Fast-paced, edge of your seat action that was the inspiration for the TV series, Bones.
That Night by Chevy Stevens – This book totally captivated me from beginning to end. As a fan of Chevy Stevens I’ve read all of her books but this one is, by far, her best to date. I will not ruin any of the plot but I will say that she expertly jumps from the past to present and helps the reader understand where Toni is coming from and why she does what she does. I really felt connected to Toni throughout the book and felt that Steven’s helped me get an insider’s look into what it’s like for a bullied, misunderstood teen as well as well as what it was like for Toni to go back to her small town as a parolee of such a personal and infamous crime. This was definitely a page turner for me. Compelling, yet disturbing, with great characters and edge of your seat action.
Other nail biting reads:
Defending Jacob by William Landay
Gone, Girl by Gillian Flynn
Twisted by Andrea Kane
Touch and Go by Lisa Gardner
Promise Me by Harlan Coben (#8 in the Myron Bolitar series)
Daddy’s Girl by Lisa Scottoline
Postmortem by Patricia Cornwell) (#1 in the Kay Scarpetta series)
– – Laurie P.
Now that we’ve entered a new year people tend to make resolutions and often those goals have to do with getting into shape (especially after eating so well during the holidays and during those Super Bowl parties). Whether you’re new to working out or a regular fitness guru, WPL has many different workout options for you, in book and DVD form, to get you in shape in 2015.
Absolute Beginners. Cardio & Strength Training Workout for Seniors (DVD)
This cardio and strength training DVD is great for seniors who want to improve their balance and mobility with a modern approach to physical fitness. With four different levels of intensity viewers can decide how intense they want their workout.
Transform Your Body with Brooke Burke – Strengthen & Condition (DVD)
I have used this DVD many times and enjoy Brooke’s personality (even is she’s a little overly bubbly at times). She has a very laid back tone and the workout is challenging enough without making the viewer feel like it’s not doable. The exercises are varied and her ab workout is admittedly pretty tough but when you see what it’s done for Brooke (a mom of four kids) it just makes you work a little bit harder.
Yoga Meltdown (DVD)
Jillian Michaels’ DVDs can be tough but they also show results. She blends yoga poses with power moves to help her viewers to tone and lose weight fast.
Breathless Body (DVD)
This DVD isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s a ‘calorie torching cardio’ workout that is a Tabata inspired interval drill workout for ultimate weight loss.
The BalleCore Workout: Integrating Pilates, Hatha Yoga and Ballet in an Innovative Exercise Routine for all Fitness Levels by Molly Weeks (book)
Yoga Cures: Simple Routines to Conquer More Than 50 Common Ailments and Live Pain-Free by Tara Stiles (book)
The Men’s Fitness Exercise Bible: 101 Best Workouts to Build Muscle, Burn Fat, and Sculpt Your Best Body Ever! by Sean Hyson & the editors at Men’s Fitness (Book)
Exercise For Your Muscle Type: The Smart Way to Get Fit by Michelle Lovitt and John Speraw (book)
Anywhere, anytime, any body yoga : a practical guide to using yoga in everyday life by Emily Slonina (book)
Pilates Weight Loss for Beginners (DVD)
Pilates Workout for Dummies (DVD)
Whether you’re into pilates, yoga, cardio or strength training, WPL has a lot to help you get up and get fit in 2015!
– – Laurie P.
Every so often I get a hankering to watch a bit of British telly. Even if I’m feeling knackered and the kids are getting a little barmy I can always look forward to a good sit down in the evening with Sherlock, dear Chummy or the people of Downton Abbey. I suppose my love of all things Brit is due to the fact that I love their cheeky sense of humour (their wonderful jargon, obviously) and feel rather posh when watching their programmes.
If you’re in the mood for some British TV but don’t know where to find it, don’t get your knickers in a twist or get the collywobbles! WPL has a great selection of British TV DVD titles that may just leave you gobsmacked and itching for all things Brit.
Some of my personal favourites:
Call the Midwife (seasons 1-3) – an outstanding series that is based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth, a nurse living in post-WWII London. Endearing, funny and touching it is a truly wonderful series with unforgettable characters.
Sherlock (seasons 1-3) – The highly talented Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock. Enough said.
Downton Abbey (seasons 1-4) – Follows the trials and tribulations of the Crawley family as well as their staff in the post-Edwardian era. The Duchess (played by Dame Maggie Smith) is utter perfection as the cantankerous and quite humourous matriarch.
Other popular titles:
Land Girls (seasons 1-3) – Follows four girls as they support Britain in the Women’s Land Army during the War.
Lark Rise to Candleford (seaons 1-4) – A trilogy of semi-autobiographical stories about life in a small 19th century English village.
New Tricks (seasons 1-10) – A comedic drama that showcases the fictional Unsolved Crime and Open Case Squad (UCOS) in London which is comprised of retired police officers who have been selected to solve ‘cold cases’.
Dalziel and Pascoe (seasons 1-9)
Doctor Who (several different series)
Inspector Lynley Mysteries (seasons 1-6)
Lovejoy (seasons 1-6)
Monarch of the Glen (seasons 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7)
Ballykissangel (seasons 1-6)
All Creatures Great and Small (seasons 1-6)
Keeping Up Appearances (seasons 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8)
I’m not quite sure how I feel about one author using another author’s characters. For example, there’s Alexandra Ripley’s Scarlett, a sequel to Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind. I know I read Scarlett, I just can’t remember it–which tells me it wasn’t a very good book. On the other hand, there’s P. D. James’s Death Comes to Pemberley. I haven’t read the book, so I can’t say if the author pulls it off. But I think using Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice characters for a murder mystery is a brilliant idea.
All this brings me to The Monogram Murders, in which British author Sophie Hannah resurrects Agatha Christie’s most famous detective, Hercule Poirot.
Hannah has big shoes to fill. Agatha Christie (1890-1976), has been outsold only by the Bible and Shakespeare and has sold 1 billion (yes, that’s a billion) copies of her books in English and a further billion copies in foreign language translations.
The mystery is set in a big London hotel in 1929. Three dead bodies are discovered in three different rooms, all carefully laid out in the same way, a monogramed cufflink thrust into their mouths. The secret of the murders, after lots of twists and turns, lies in a long distant village scandal.
The Monogram Murders doesn’t read like an Agatha Christie at all. And Poirot himself, the dapper Belgian detective, acts and speaks differently than he does in Christie’s books. But actually I’m OK with that. I don’t think any self-respecting writer would be content to produce a carbon copy of someone else’s work.
I found the book interesting. But I probably wouldn’t line up to read another sequel, should there be one.
– – Penny D.
I love the coincidences that come from working in the library. A patron will return a book and then 30 minutes later another patron will come in and pick up the same book from the Holds shelf and remark about how much she is looking forward to reading that same book. The serendipity of working in an environment that is filled with people and books can be so pleasant. When I find that same kind of coincidence in the material I’ve been reading I can’t help but wonder whether there is a reason behind it.
Well, with my recent reading topic I certainly hope not! Two Dystopian novels with terrifying self-proclaimed prophets – what kind of message is behind that coincidence? Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven and Edan Lepucki’s California had been on the list of things I wanted to read for quite a while and their similarities just made the reading more interesting. I have always enjoyed books that try to illustrate how society will rebuild after catastrophe (remember Stephen King’s The Stand? – still one of my all-time favourites). It’s that whole idea of how it’s possible to safely think though scary thoughts in books because you know you aren’t really experiencing it – like how a roller coaster gives you that feeling of intense fear but you know you are safe within the car the whole time – that makes post-apocalyptic fiction so much fun. Really, musing about the end of the world has been popular for a very long time.
Reading two novels that have similar themes so closely together gave me a chance to compare the styles of writing, the way the two authors felt we might try to rebuild our world and consider whether their choices might match up with the ones I might make (all from the safety of my striped chair). California brings us into the lives of Cal and Frida a few years after they’ve adjusted to the destruction of the world they used to know and are firmly in the routine of hunting, farming and trading to try and keep themselves safe. In Station Eleven we have the chance to get to know the cast of characters a few weeks before their worldwide disaster strikes and then they try to find a way to survive without refrigeration and mass distribution of food and consumer goods. In both novels the main characters find objects or memories that they protect, helping to connect them with the homes and families that they have lost. These small coping mechanisms seemed so real to me and I felt like it built a stronger connection between the reader and the story. Maybe I would have chosen the same things in a way to feel closer to what I had lost?
I like a book that gives you a lot to think about. I like a book that gives you a lot to talk about also – with library patrons or at home with my family. It’s very easy to sit back and wonder how it would be possible to rebuild a community or how you would find enough to eat but to actually do that is another thing. I am amazed (and thrilled) that both authors took such different approaches to similar stories. The world their characters knew has ended but in each novel – despite creepily similar obstacles – there are distinctly different moments of beauty. Their imagination and ability to create a new and terrifying world on the pages was incredible. It all felt very real. It was a scary but gripping roller coaster ride to read both of these novels. True, there is much to fear in the new worlds these two young authors have created but you are left with a sense of something good to come. You really do get the feeling that it might be ‘the end of the world as we know it, (but I feel fine)’.
What do you think?
– – Penny M.
2015 Reading Challenge
Happy New Year! A new year makes it a great time to set up a reading challenge for ourselves. To stretch our ‘reading wings’. Some people, like myself, like to keep track of the numbers of books that they read in a year (a free GoodReads account is great for this) but this year I wanted to do something different. More challenging. I’m an avid reader already so why not make it a little harder and push myself to read books/genres that aren’t in my comfort zone? Hopefully this will open up a whole new world of reading for me.
Here’s a list of reading challenges. How many of them can you accomplish this year?
1. A book set in Canada. (eg. Still Life by Louise Penny)
2. A book with a non-human main character. (eg. The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien)
3. A book with more than 500 pages (eg. Roots by Alex Haley)
4. Read an e-book (WPL staff can teach you all about our download library!)
5. A non-fiction read
6. A book written by a female author
7. A book from WPL’s ‘Featured Titles’
8. A book published during the year you were born
9. A fantasy novel
10. A book with a number in the title
11. A book written by a British author
12. An entire book trilogy
13. A book of short stories (eg. Alice Munro’s Family Furnishings
14. A book published this year
15. A Young Adult novel (eg. Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers)
16. A book that you’ve always wanted to read but haven’t yet
17. Re-read a book that you have read in the past and didn’t love
18. A book that you read in high school
19. Listen to an audiobook or e-audiobook
20. Read a book that’s currently on the bestseller charts
21. A book set during a World War (eg. The Paris Architect by James Belfoure)
22. A book that was later made into a movie or mini-series
23. Read a classic novel
24. A memoir or biography
25. A book written when the author was older than 65 years of age
26. Re-read your favourite book as a child
27. A historical fiction read
28. A book with magic in it
29. A book set in a country that you’ve always wanted to visit
30. A thriller or suspense read
31. A book written by a Canadian author whom you haven’t read yet
32. A book set in the 1700’s
33. A memoir of a celebrity
34. A book that will make you cry (eg. Five Days Left by Julie Lawson Timmer)
35. A humourous book (eg.Yes, Please by Amy Poehler)
36. A book that a friend recommends to you
37. A book originally written in another language
38. A graphic novel
39. A book written when the author was under 25 years of age
40. A guilty pleasure read
– – Laurie P.