Thursday, December 29, 2011

Review of the year 2011

This photo is of my family taken just last week for Xmas.

Merry Xmas and Happy New Years

Well, as you can see, I barely wrote anything on this blog this year.
Wait. Thats not true. I wrote tons of stuff this year. I just didn't write on this blog.

As per a post I wrote on this blog back in January, I got hooked on Squidoo. A year later - my first year anniversary is tomorrow - and I am still hooked on Squidoo. I have written 170 lenses (or pages) in my first year. I still read a few books, but I write the reviews on Squidoo instead of writing them here.

I do apologise for not keeping up with this blog. I barely managed 25 posts this year. Gasp, That is just so bad!!! But I guess 4 years is pretty good to keep a blog going. Most people would have stopped blogging long before now.

Anyway, as I said, I am still hooked on Squidoo. I have found some great friends there. So for the year 2012, you can expect to find me there and not here. My profile page is here under the name of Serenia.

My family have gotten through the madness that is Christmas. We are now coming up to New Years.

The state of the world and politics is getting worse. I fully expect World War 3 to break out in 2012. I am also wondering if this is what the Mayans meant when they claimed the end of the age (world) will happen in December 2012. 

That is what the world is building up to, simply because certain  governments will NOT step back and think rationally and logically about how their actions are affecting the majority of people on this planet. These governments are just too greedy to get what they want - and they dont care about the rest of the people either. This was shown by the Occupy Wall Street protest movement that started up in September of this year. It represented the 99% (the majority of the populations) protesting against the financial institutes and the banks (the very wealthy and greedy 1%)  for destroying the economy.

Today as the new year is about to tick over - most of those OWS protests have been evicted by city councils. In New York, in Oakland (California) and in Toronto. Some of the protesters have been in battles against the police. People have been injured - some seriously. Most other protests have given up because of the Xmas Holidays and/or Winter (Dunedin, New Zealand). Other protests are still trying to stay in their place of occupation and are fighting their municipal councils (Auckland, New Zealand).

The western world is in a major Depression. The economy has gone way past a Recession. So far inflation is running at around 3% (at least here in Canada it is). But wages (for those few who are still employed) are either frozen or rising at only 1%. Thus making the prices of food, gas and other items too expensive. People are being laid off from their jobs, they are unable to pay their mortages and their homes are being foreclosed by the banks. So many families are being forced out of their homes, it is not funny.

I graduated from my college in 2009 and have not been able to find work. I did seriously look during 2010 but I didnt look quite so much in 2011. I guess you can say I have given up looking - but shhh, dont tell my son. He is not at all happy with me not working. He wants me to work, so I can bring in more money for the family - purely to buy him more toys!!!!

We did make one major purchase this year. We purchased another computer. We now have 3 computers - one for each member of the family. 

The very old one is running on Windows XP and is 6 years old.
The not so old one runs on Windows Vista and is 3 years old.
The brand new computer has Windows 7 but is not yet hooked up to our little network.

We are currently waiting for a 2 Terabyte (that is 2048 Gigabyte)  harddrive to arrive from Hong Kong - in order to be able to save everything as we move stuff from one computer to another. We had to purchase this harddrive from HongKong. It was a lot cheaper. Only cost us $50 plus shipping. A brand new 2 Terabyte harddrive in Canada costs over $200!!!

Anyway, this is my review of the year 2011. I do still hope to get a part time job in 2012. I will still be looking, but I wont be making it a full time job.

So I wish all my readers a safe and happy New Years and a peaceful year in 2012.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Anniversary of sorts

I just wanted to make a note of todays important anniversary.
This is NOT book related - This is a personal anniversary.
And no its not my wedding anniversary - That's in October.

5 years ago today - December 13, 2006 - I finally became a permanent resident of Canada - after 5 years of processing.

I have been in Canada now for 11 years - I spent the first 6 of those years as a visitor or on a work permit. And the last 5 years as a permanent resident.

I hope to become a Canadian citizen sometime in the next 5 years.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Aftermath of latest ER episode

I went back to the hospital yesterday for an ultrasound on my legs and they found exactly - NOTHING.

They dont know what caused my legs to swell, nor do they know what caused the chest pains either.
But they were looking for evidence of deep vein thrombosis - so far no signs. So I was released and allowed to go home.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

And another trip to the ER

My heart started giving me some pains last night, and my legs swelled up. Both are possible symptoms of Congestive Heart Failure - something that last happened to me in January 2010 when I spent 6 days in hospital being diagnosed with Graves Disease.

So at 1 AM this morning I grabbed a taxi and went to the local hospital ER. I spent the next 8 hours dozing on and off, having blood tests done, a chest X-ray, even a CT scan. Everything came back fine. The only concern was my red and swollen legs. They gave me some blood thinners which eased the pain in my chest.

I was discharged at 9 AM this morning with instructions to go back tomorrow for an ultrasound on my legs and then they will re-assess. I will have to wait and see what happens then.

Friday, October 28, 2011

William and Catherine - Book Review

William and Catherine - Their Story
By Andrew Morton
St Martins Press 2011

Now I don't normally read this stort of stuff, but I have to admit I know next to nothing about Catherine, the new Duchess of Cambridge.

I dont watch TV. I dont read all the gossip although I do read the headlines. So when I spotted this book on the shelf at the library, I thought this would be a good opportunity to learn who they are, how they met and what makes them tick.

This is a coffee table book - not too thick and yet it has LOTS of photos.

I read it in just 4 hours and really enjoyed it. Now I know how they met, how their courtship ran. why he waited so long to propose (giving her the title Waitey Katey in the press - a nasty name IMO). This book also describes their wedding (April 29th, 2011) in great detail, and then ends. A very suitable place to end.

If you want to know the basics about William and Catherine, and their lives, without reading a 500 page dry biography, then this is the book to read.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Freedom - Book Review

By Daniel Suarez
Signet Books 2010
Authors website

This book is a continuation of the first book - Daemon.

I was introduced to MMORPG games by my son who loves playing them. MMORPG = Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games. Every person creates a character (the most common types are soldier, ranger, thief, mage, wizard and cleric) and every character is represented in the game by an avatar. The avatar has information about the character attached to it. The most obvious information being name, character type, health and game level.

The darknet is the virtual space by which users (humans) can access the Daemon and other users. Not all users choose to join the darknet. Because the Daemon knows everything about you, when you join the darknet, your avatar will show everything about you, including your personal worth, your credit level and most important, your reputation.

Everyone is measured out of 5 stars and the higher number of stars you have, and the more responses you have - the better your reputation is. For example Loki has half a star over 5000 - which means 5000 people have given him either 1 star or no stars - his actions means that he is not a nice person. Peter Sebeck on the other hand has a reputation of 4 stars over 5000. That means that 5000 people have given him an average 4 out of 5 stars.

The world is rapidly going downhill after the emergence of the Daemon. There are food shortages. Unemployment is over 16%. Gas is at $3.58 a gallon. The big agricultural companies want to take over the smaller farms and plant their GMOs. The larger companies are desperate to control the Daemon - because it knows everything about everyone and knowledge is power.

The Daemon has "infected" computers everywhere. Nothing is private. The Daemon has even hired lawyers to sue the US government to accept and acknowledge that the Daemon is a sentient being and has a right to exist. The US government and big business are desperate to hide their activities and not have the Daemon spread knowledge of their activites to all the people of the world - which is what the Daemon actually does. It blackmails the government and the big corporations.

The Daemon has access to all security cameras and CCTV videos all over the world. The Daemon sees all, hears all and knows all.

In this sequel, Peter Sebeck is on a virtual and vital quest - given to him by the Daemon. He has to justify the freedom of humanity. The Daemon needs to know if humanity can create a true democracy - where individual rights are not ignored by big business and government.

Prove that humanity will prevent its own destruction and you will have justified humanity's freedom. If you fail - then humanity will serve the Daemon.

Loki is out to destroy the Daemon by any means necessary, He uses razorbacks - motorcycles that have been rebuilt as killer machines and are under remote control. These machines actually kill people - chopping them to bloody bits. The descriptions are very brutal.

The Major (name unknown) also wants to keep control of the people in the hands of the government and of the corporations, so he too is out to destroy the Daemon.

Jon Ross is desperate to help the Daemon survive. He wants humanity to be able to control themselves and determine their own fate - and not have a few greedy powermongers determine it for them.

This was an excellent novel - quite scary in some places with the razorbacks being very brutal and the economy being in chaos, just like it is today in our real world.

This is due to the activities and control of greedy powermongers - both in government and in the higher echelons of certain corporations.

Wonder - Book Review

By Robert J. Sawyer
Penguin Books, 2011
Trilogy website
Author website

This is the 3rd and final book in the WWW trilogy. All 3 books have been read and reviewed on this blog.

In the first Book - Wake - was about the emergence of Webmind - the conciousness that emerged from the Internet. In the second book - Watch - is about Webmind going public and announcing its presence online. This is also about the US and Canadian governments being scared of Webmind, and under the guise of National Security, they try to eliminate the threat.

This is the last book - Wonder. Keep on mind that the entire trilogy takes places over just a few weeks, The first book is just a few days, the second book is one week, and the third book is over several weeks.

In this book Webmind has gone public, and this is the story about the responses around the world. Especially those responses of the US, Canadian and Chinese governments.

The US government still wants to eliminate webmind. The Canadisn government does not seem to be worried. They leave it up to the US government to get rid of the threat. The Chinese government decides to put up the Great Firewall and prevent Webmind from engaging with the Chinese people,

But that is precisely how Webmind came to exists in the first place. The previous month, Webmind emerged into existance because a part of his conciousness was cut off from the rest of the internet when China tried to cut itself off from the world during a bird flu epidemic. Webmind emerged to determine why it was cut off and worked to get it back. Now it has to do the same again.

But this time, it chooses to use a different process. This time Webmind, actually forces the Chinese government to resign and gives over control of China to the people, The fastest and quietest coup d'etat in history.

I enjoy reading any and all about books about computers - hacking, cracking, computer crimes, computer security etc etc.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Christmas at the Mysterious Bookshop - Book Review

Christmas at the Mysterious Bookshop
Edited by Otto Penzler
Vanguard Press 2010
Book Website
Bookshop Website

The first thing you need to know is that I NEVER but NEVER read short stories. I usually can't stand them. But when I spotted this book at my local library, it's about books, its set in a bookshop, I have to at least try and read them. And when I discovered that the editor and the book shop are both real - well thats just icing on the cake.

So I read the 17 short stories written for this anthology. All mysteries written by mystery authors and all had a setting either at or partially at The Mysterious Bookshop.

 I read all the stories within 24 hours. Most of them I liked. Some of these authors I have read. Most of them I have not actually heard of because mysteries are not my usual reading genre.

So if you want to read an anthology of short stories - all mysteries - and all connected in some way with the Mysterious Bookshop in Manhattan, NYC, then this is the book for you.

And while right now is not yet Xmas - after next week - when Halloween is over and done with - then the retail shops WILL be gearing up for Xmas and we will be flooded with Xmas music and decorations -  starting on November 1st - I guarantee it.

Other reviews
Paul Davis
Broken Bullhorn

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Back to school

I didnt post anything over the summer because I haven't read any books at all over summer. I spent a lot of my time in Squidoo.

However summer is now over and my son is back in school. He is now in grade 4. His teacher gave out a student questionaire for the kids to fill out - so that she can get to know them better. For now, she is a temporary teacher until Thanksgiving (mid-October) when the permanent teacher comes back from maternity leave.

Anyway, one of the questions on these student "getting to know you" forms was -
What is the most important thing about you that I need to know.
My son's answer was cute. He wrote - I have bad writing so be aware.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Toronto City Mayor wants to close the Toronto Public Library

Toronto elected a right-wing mayor last year. We should have known that he lied.
He swore that there would be NO SERVICE cuts. That is a major reason why he was elected.
Toronto has a rather large deficit right now, and instead of raising taxes, the mayor wants to cut services.

He wants to cut daycare subsidies (city hall pays for daycare spaces for those parents whose jobs are minimum wage and cant afford to pay $50 per day). He wants to cut down on the number of times the grass gets cut in city parks during summer. He wants to cut down on the number of times the roads get plowed (snow removal) during the winter. He wants to cut down on Police numbers.

But the biggest shock of all is that he wants to Privatise the public libraries!!

Interior of the Toronto Reference Library - the main central branch at Yonge and Bloor

So Canada's champion for books - internationally known author Margaret Atwood - has joined the battle to keep our libraries open.

Margaret Atwood takes to Twitter to battle Toronto Mayor over Library Closures

She is asking people to sign the petition to KEEP OUR LIBRARIES OPEN

Many City Councillors see Toronto's public libraries as a financial burden rather than an important community service. As some American cities already have done, Toronto City Hall is actively considering turning over some or all of the operation of our free public library system to the private sector.


Library users, that's who, through higher user fees, fewer books, less access and fewer branches.

Would YOU as a library user want to pay to borrow books?
I would not and cant afford to do that. If this happens, I would just stop using the library.

I have heard that Toronto Public Library is one of the best library systems on the entire North American continent. Possibly also one of the biggest - there are 99 branches. Even Montreal's public library only has 50 branches. We have to all work together to KEEP it that way.



Thank you.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Borders Books going out of Business

If you haven't already heard, the American book store chain Borders is shutting down, going out of business and forcing over 10,000 employees out of their jobs. This is not good news for helping the economy to recover. This news was reported on July 19, 2011 - 3 days ago.

I mention this because I am sure I would have heard or read anything about this in Canada if it had been mentioned. And to me, this is BIG news. I only found this out today, when I was checking out my favourite Canadian book magazine - Quill and Quire

Borders has been struggling for several years to maintain its market shore against the strong Barnes and Noble chain and Amazon. Borders closed down a number of bricks and mortar shops back in 2007, but that did not help.

The bookchain declared bankruptcy in February 2011 and closed some 200 stores at that time. Borders has been in liquidation and looking for a buyer ever since, This week it conceded defeat saying it was unable to find a buyer.

One major reason Borders has been forced out of business is Amazon. Most book buyers have discovered the comfort and convenience of purchasing their books online from their own homes. I too have been guilty of this as I like to purchase my books from an online book warehouse. When I have money that is. 

On the first page of the Borders website is a large red notice

I don't know much about Borders other than it has always ran second to Barnes and Noble (the top Book store chain in the USA). Borders has also tried to expand overseas without success. I know there was at least one Borders shop in New Zealand - which did not last long. 



Thursday, July 21, 2011


Cant (gasp) read (gasp, gasp). There's a (gasp) heatwave (gasp) across Ontario (gasp) right now

The last few days have been extremely hot - with temperatures breaking July records all over the place. Today here in Toronto, the temperature has climbed to 37 degrees Celcius (98.6 degrees F).

Inside my apartment, despite the doors and windows being open and the fans blowing, the temperature is currently at 32 degrees Celcius (89 degrees F). The building does NOT have central A/C and we can't afford to buy a unit right now.

The humidex for Toronto is currently 47 degrees Celsius. That means it FEELS like 47 degrees outside, (116 degrees F) and yes that means it feels like an OVEN.

I know this is not book related, but it's just too hot to read!!!


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tout Allure - Book Review

Tout Allure - Falling in Love in Rural France
by Karen Wheeler
MacArthur & Company 2010

Author's Website
Author's Blog

Karen Wheeler is an English Journalist who gave up the rat-race of London living to move to a quiet village near Poitiers in Central France. She has written 2 books about her experiences in France. The first one is called Tour Sweet in which she makes the decision to pack up and move, looking for a house to buy and them the actual move itself. The second book is called Tour Allure (Total Attraction) and is all about her love life in France. So if you dont normally read Chick Lit - then you are warned to stay away from these books.

At the beginning of this book, Karen has just broken up with her french boyfriend. She still has a long time english boyfriend floating around. Karen writes about juggling the english boyfriend, the new dog she gets, her job and deadlines, learning how to do Line Dancing, the very noisy Portugese neighbours from next door and how she acquires a new boyfriend - and let me tell you - that was NOT plain sailing. 

For light reading this book is actually very enjoyable. It is a pity that I read the second book first. However I do have the first book on reserve at the library. I love reading books about life in France and this one was just as good as all the others.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I am 10 and Divorced - Book Review

Yemen is one of the poorest countries in the world. It is also one of the most traditional and in Yemen the Islam religion reigns supreme. Noone can even try to mess with tradition. Not even the yemeni government.

In 2008 Nujood Ali was a 10 years old girl - one of 12 mouths to feed in a poor family. her father was unemployed and in 2006 (when Nujood was 8) a scandal erupted which forced the family to flee their home village and move to Sana'a - the capital of Yemen. The scandal later turned out to be one of Hujood's older sisters having been kidnapped by a man who wanted her as his bride.

In Sana'a Nujood's father got a job but was unhappy and eventually lost the job when he was continually absent.

In 2008 when Nujood was roughly aged 10 (she never knew exactly when her birthday was) she was married off to a man aged in his 30s who was also from their home village.

In Yemen girls were not supposed to be getting married until one year after they became a woman - one year after their menses began. But tradition meant that some girls were married earlier provided the men promised to NOT be intimate with their child brides at least until they had had their first menses. Unfortunately it seems that Yemeni men cannot keep their promises.

Nujood was taken back to her home village and then forced to keep house, cook the food, and do all the dirty jobs that her new mother in law no longer wanted to do. The husband also raped her as well. He had promised Nujood's father that he would wait until she became a woman. He lied.

The wife of the head of the family does not have any power in the house. His mother (who was now her mother in law) hold all the power and Nujoods mother in law treated her like dirt.

Eventually Nujood was allowed to visit her family in Sana'a and after her "step mother" (her fathers second wife) told her to try the courts, she decided that she had had enough of being raped every night. So when Nujood was sent out to buy bread one day, instead of buying bread, she went to the court house and asked to speak to a judge. she ended up waiting all day and wasn't noticed until the end of the business day.

When she was asked what she wanted by a kind looking man - she told him that she wanted a divorce. He was shocked that she was already married and already having sexual relations at such a young age.

She was sent to stay with another family for her own protection. She even got her own lawyer - a Yemeni woman named Shada Nasser - who was an activist for women's rights in Yemen.

Nujood went back to live with her family where her father and older brothers were ashamed that she had publicly embarrassed the family. Nujood also went back to school.

Eventually when Nujood's case came up in court, she stated that he beat her and had sexual relations with her despite the fact that her menses had not yet begun. The judge asked her if she was willing to go back to him after a break of 3 to 5 years. She said NO.

The judge granted the divorce and Nujood became a celebrity. Several more girls in the same situation have since asked for divorces from their much older spouses. One of these girls lives in Saudi Arabia.

Nujood now lives with her family and is back in school. The royalties from the book are helping the family. She also has an international sponsor who pays the school fees, books and uniforms for both Nujood and her sister.

The Yemeni government has tried to change the legal age for women to age 15, but some powerful  members of government are opposed and so the law has not been passed. 

This was an interesting book. I enjoyed it very much and read it in just a few hours.

New York Times Op-ed

Glamour Article Page 1

Glamour Article Page 2

Glamour Article Page 3

Nujood in Wikipedia

Saturday, May 14, 2011

True Spirit - Book Review

True Spirit
By Jessica Watson
Atria Books - 2010

This is the story of Jessica Watson, the young Australian sailor, who is (as of now) the youngest person to ever circumnavigate the planet as a solo sailor and she did it UNASSISTED and in just 7 months. She was just 16 years old.

This is my review of her memoirs entitled True Spirit. However since I have already written the entire review once already and under Squidoo rules, I cannot copy it elsewhere, I am just going to link to it from here so you can read it as well.

I have already mentioned Jessica previously in this blog. Today is the first anniversary of her return home to Sydney at the end of her voyage last year.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Happy Birthday to me....

My birthday today...

Just had a quiet day - nothing special happening.
Other than I am getting old. Today I turned 47.
In just 3 years I will be 50!!!!
Not looking forward to that at all.

By the end of this month, my spouse will also have had his 47th birthday and my son will have turned 9 years old.

Monday, April 25, 2011

500 year old book of World History discovered in Utah

In this photo taken April 23, 2011, a copy of the Nuremberg Chronicle published in 1493 is displayed at Ken Sanders Rare Books in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. The Utah book dealer came across the 500-year-old German language edition while appraising items brought in by locals at a fundraiser for the town museum in Sandy, about 15 miles south of Salt Lake City. It's considered to be one of the earliest and most lavishly illustrated books produced after the invention of the printing press. (AP Photo/Brian Skoloff)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Greg Mortenson called a Liar

Greg Mortenson, the author of 2 books (both reviewed on this blog) was called a LIAR yesterday by the CBS current affairs program - 60 Minutes.   

Mortenson wrote two books about the charity for schools that he began after getting lost in the Karakoram mountains while on a climbing trip.  His charity - called Central Asia Institute  (CAI) - builds schools for rural children in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The CBS report which aired on "60 Minutes" claimed that most of the stories Mortenson wrote about never actually happened,. And when the reporter went to visit the schools, he found them empty. There are more questions and answers from the CBS to Mortenson on the CAI website

Mortenson's books are reviewed here.

Three Cups of Tea

Stones into Schools

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Stream Runs Fast - Book Review

Just so you all know, I am still around, still reading and still making lenses on Squidoo.

The last book I finished reading was called The Stream Runs Fast by Nellie McClung. This was her autobiography. It covered her life from 1896 when she got married until 1945 when the book was published.

Nellie is a reasonably big name in Canadian History. At least she SHOULD be. She was a suffragette and a political activist. She helped Canada to bring in the vote for women and she also helped Canada to give women legal status by having them recognized as persons so that women could sit in the Canadian federal government. She was also a writer and wrote a number of books as well as numerous newspaper columns and editorials. Some of her writings can be read at Project  Gutenberg.

Nellie wrote The Stream Runs Fast towards the end of her life. It was first published in 1945 and she died in 1951. I wrote a lens about Nellie using The Stream Runs Fast to review all that she did in her life. Nellie really made a difference.

My edition of The Stream Runs Fast was published in October 2010 byThomas Allen Publishers.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Happy Birthday dear Bibliohistoria

This is just so you know what happening, or not happening as the case may be. Tomorrow (March 17th)  is of course St Paddy's day (and I am not Irish) and tomorrow is also the 4th birthday of this blog.

And obviously my interest in reading and reviewing books seems to have died down quite considerably. That is surprising to me but that's the nature of the scanner personality!!!

I am spending a lot of my time on Squidoo now - creating lenses (webpages) on all sorts of subjects. So far I have made 60 lenses. You can read them from my profile page.

I cant promise to keep my promise of reading and reviewing 2 books per month. Well actually I am still interested in reading the books. I just  seem to have lost all interest in writing reviews. So dont expect any regular updates to this blog. I will continue to post any interesting bookish news I read about.

Check out my Squidoo profile page (linked above) to keep up with what's happening to me. Since we have to keep our lenses Unique, Useful and Updated, I find that I make lenses about things that happen around me. Personal lenses do better for content and visitors than essay type lenses
Ciao for now.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Recent news about Mohammed Yunus

Bangladesh's Yunus loses appeal against sacking

Mohammed Yunus, who founded the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, and then wrote 2 books about the Grameen bank and about microfinancing, has lost his appeal over the banks action of sacking him from the board of directors of the very bank he founded. This action was taken because he was considered to now be too old. The mandatory retirement age for bank officers in Bangladesh is 60. Yunus is currently 70 years old. Yunus also won the Nobel Prize for Peace in 2006.

I write a review of Yunus's book called - Banker to the Poor - which was posted in January 2008.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Women I was Born to be - Book Review

The Women I was Born to Be - My Story
By Susan Boyle
Atria Books (Simon & Schuster) 2010

Hands up anyone who has NEVER heard of Susan Boyle. Of course you have. She's the woman from Scotland who came out of nowhere to superstardom in April 2009 after just one audition on the TV show Britain's Got Talent.

If you haven't heard her sing or you want to hear her again - listen to her audition.

In January 2009 (2 years ago) Susan Boyle was an unemployed mentally challenged unmarried woman, in her 40s, living in the village of Blackburn just outside of Edinburgh in Scotland. Susan was the youngest of 9 children from a Roman Catholic family - her 8 older siblings are anywhere from 3 to 15 years older than her.

Susan had been deprived of oxygen for a short time at birth (she was born in 1961) and this had left her slightly brain damaged. She was relentlessly bullied in school and had difficulty passing exams. But she had always loved music and loved to sing. And as the youngest of the family Susan admits that she was a little spoiled by her parents.

Susan grew up singing in church choirs, and smoky pubs. She also loved listening to music on the radio and when the TV came long, she would watch the music show Top of the Pops - a long time weekly music show that did the top 10 countdown with the artists every week. Susan's most favourite music singer as a child was Donny Osmond. They both had similar backgrounds - they both came from large religious families where music was a big part of their lives.

Susan's father died in 1999. One of Susan's older sisters also unexpectedly died not long after, which devastated the family. Susan and her mother loved watching the reality shows and the music shows on TV. Susan's mother began encouraging Susan to think about auditioning for one of these shows. After her mothers death, Susan decided that the time was right to do something so she applied to audition.

In January of 2009 Susan appeard on a stage in Glasgow in front of Simon Cowell and Piers Morgan and sang. She and the audience were sworn to silence as she was invited back to the live semi-finals to be held after the auditions had aired on TV.

On April 11, 2009 Susan's audition was aired on TV in Britain. Of course Susan watched it - along with her family and friends. That night the neighbours came banging on her doorstep asking for her autograph. The next morning her telephone started ringing and never stopped. When Susan called the TV show producers and asked what was going on, she was told, "oh your audition is on youtube, its gone viral." Susan did not have a computer and had no idea what you tube was.

This book is Susans memoir of her life and of the first 18 months after she was "discovered."

I found it very readable except for 2 small issues - but these are just my own personal issues about Susan, and have nothing to do with the book itself.

Susan's roman catholic faith is a big part of her life so she often refers to praying in church to help her cope with the stresses of life. She also writes extremely detailed accounts of her meeting with the scottish monsignor (cardinal) and the pope. I am not religious at all so these parts were somewhat boring for me.

The other issue I had was her constant use of the word "wee" meaning small. I know its how scottish people talk - but I feel it was quite overused in this memoir.

But other than that, this is a fascinating account of what it is like to rise from obscurity to stardom literally overnight thanks modern inventions like the internet.

Silence is golden....or not....

OK OK OK I know I havent posted anything for a month. I'm sorry.

The reason is that my scanner personality has taken over and I am spending a lot of my time on Squidoo, making lenses (mini webpages) and making friends there as well. I am also still reading fan fiction online and looking for a job.

So I will make a deal with you. I will read and review at least a minimum of 2 books per month this year, or until my passion for Squidoo dies down.

I find that reading books is getting a little boring. I think in part because I dont have the extra money to go out and buy books. I have to borrow them from the library. I frequently have to reserve and get them out on inter library loan - and then I am forced to read them to a deadline - usually 3 or 6 weeks. For some reason that removes the enjoyment out of reading them. I have no idea why or how.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

J'Adore New York - Book Review

J'Adore New York
by Isabelle LaFleche
Harper Collins 2010
Author's website

The international law firm Edward and White in New York City is expanding. It sends out a compelling advertisement to its 45 offices in Asia, Australia, Europe and the Americas. 

We are seeking talented and ambitious associates from our international offices to transfer to our ever expanding team in New York. These positions offer the opportunity to work on high-end transactions with the world’s leading corporations, financial institutions, and governments. The New york office enjoys a collegiate and partner-directed, not partner-dominated, work environment, which offers excellent career development opportunities.

There are only 3 job vacancies available at the NYC office. Catherine Lambert from the Paris office is lucky enough to get one of the coveted positions.

I don't normally read chicklit but when you read the blurb of a novel that combines french haute couture and large american law firms, you have the makings of a fun, bitchy and non-stop story.

If you want to know what really goes on in a high flying law firm, then you should read this novel. The bitchiness and back stabbing starts on page 1 and it doesnt let up until the very last page.

Catherine Lambert is thrown into the fray and must either sink or swim on her own. On her very first day in the office, she is sent out of town to conduct a due diligence review for an acquisition client. Amongst the documents Catherine finds a letter that indicates the CEO and the CFO committed fraud.

The second day on the job, Catherine meets Antoine, a securities lawyer who is transferring to Paris soon. He dumps all his workload onto her desk but sweetens the deal with a request for her to help with an intellectual property protection and counterfeiting investigation of the Dior brand. Dior is Catherine's MOST favourite brand.

Catherine also meets her paralegal assistant Rikash. An impeccably dressed Indian man, who is overtly gay with a penchant for French haute couture, Rikash and Catherine had previously bonded over the telephone.

Other characters that Catherine meets include Bonnie, the head of mergers & acquisitions, Nathan, a cocaine snorting lawyer, Scott, a managing partner of the firm and Harry the head of the entire litigation department. And then there are Mel and Jeffrey. Both represent large clients who are given to Catherine to deal with. One has an IPO (intial public offering) that is about to be released. The other is a hedge fund manager from a large financial firm.

In a matter of days Catherine comes under great pressure to make enough billable hours, and she watches both her social life and shopping life disappear. To make things worse, she also has to find her own apartment and that is not a billable expense.

Bonnie becomes the boss from hell as she demands that Catherine do all the demeaning business that a personal assistant would normally do, including picking up Bonnie's drycleaning.

The hedge fund manager turns out to be a sexist bastard and within a few weeks he has invited Catherine to a gala that he claims his wife is involved with. At the gala, the wife turns out to be the ex-wife. Mel gets drunk and gropes and propositions Catherine in a very obvious manner. When Catherine turns him down, he threatens to get her fired. The next day he sends an email to Scott and Harry (copied to Catherine) saying that she engaged in inappropriate behaviour in his presence - specifically becoming intoxicated and embarrassing him. He sees no point in staying with their firm and will be taking his business elsewhere. To Catherine he sends an email saying - Too bad you didn't exercise your good judgement last night....

Jeffrey's company is preparing to go public and Catherine is hard at work preparing the prospectus and the IPO.  Jeffrey wines and dines her and showers her with jewellery. She thinks she is in love until the day he gives her a ring and asks her to move some shares from his portfolio into another name so he can sell them and make a profit. The rules say that shares are locked for several weeks after an IPO opens for this specific reason - so that the company shareholders dont use insider trading to make a profit.

Catherine is shocked. She calls Jeff on the phone a few days later, turns on her dictaphone and asks him to explain the details of his scheme. Without committing herself, she decides its is time to get out of NYC and starts looking around for a new job.

The head office decides to have a retreat for all partners and Catherine is forced to take a weekend off to attend. Fortunately she meets up woth Antoine (still at the Paris office) and their relationship flares up again. She tries to meet the legal counsel (head lawyer) for Dior who is staying in the same hotel but is unable to do so. She made an appointment to meet with the lawyer but the lawyer skipped town early the next morning.

When she returns to NYC, Catherine complains to Rikash about the Dior lawyer who skipped out on an appointment. Rikash promises to fix the situation and the very next day Catherine gets a telephone call from Paris from the Dior lawyer herself - the very one she had the appointment with.

Catherine is asked to fly to Paris to attend an interview. It turns out that Rikash had fedexed Catherine's resume to Paris on coloured paper that turns out to be the colours of the brand new Dior couture collection.  The Dior counsel tells Catherine that the head of the Intellectual Property dept of Dior is retiring and Catherine's resume looks as if she has the required skills and experience. Catherine is thrilled and she and Rikash break open a mini bottle of champagne to celebrate.

The Author.
Isabelle Lafl├Ęche worked for over ten years in Toronto, New York City and Montreal as a corporate attorney in a large law firm and on Wall Street. In 2005, she was responsible for the business affairs of a Quebec based fashion designer where she developed her penchant for haute couture. This is her first novel. She lives in Montreal, Quebec.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

And she's off.....

I hope you all had a Happy New Years.

In keeping with my Scanner Personality, I have found a new interest.

"Oh no, not again...." I can hear you whispering.

Now I love creating web pages and blogs, but blogs are time consuming and webpages means writing a lot of HTML code. If you have checked out my dashboard page here for all my blogs, you can see that I currently have 19 blogs. Some of my blogs are for book reading challenges and others are for various areas of interest.

And last week I found a new way to create web pages for all my varied areas of interest. It satisfies my drive to educate and teach others, and to create, and it satisfies my need for the method to be relatively easy and painless. It is called SQUIDOO.

For Squidoo, one can create a singe page for a specific area of interest and creating the page is as easy as clicking a few buttons. Each page is called a LENS and their creators are called LENSMASTERS. A lensmaster can have as many pages as they choose. It is not unusual for some lensmasters to have 500 pages or more.

Squidoo supports itself with ads. Most of the ads run at the top and bottom of each page and down the sidebar on the right. There is still plenty of space to write up about your interests. Lensmasters can also use various affiliate programs to sell products - the most common one used is Amazon.

Some lensmasters have worked hard and are now creating a decent income with their lenses - anywhere from a few hundred dollers every month to several thousands every year. For others like me, the money is secondary (not important) and the stronger desire is to teach and educate. If our pages do generate any money, it gets sent to charities of our choice.

My plan is to gradually move most of my blogs over to Squidoo and delete the blogs. But don't worry!!! I will be keeping this blog. I am not throwing away almost 4 years of hard work. No way!!

As of today I have already created 7 Squidoo lenses and am in the middle of creating 2 more. I did say they were easy to make. The community at Squidoo is wonderful. There is a very supportive forum where one can ask questions and get help.

My main Squidoo page or main lens is called a LENSOGRAPHY. It has information about me and links to all my other lenses. On Squidoo I call myself SERENIA. That is an old Egyptian name found on papyrus in Egypt.

Serenia Lensography

I hope you will visit my various lens pages and either leave a comment or click the Liked It button at the bottom of each page.