Thursday, February 26, 2015

BOOK: Cobra by Deon Meyer

Cobra by Deon Meyer, 338 pages

review copy from Penguin Random House Canada

from the publisher:
Why would a mathematics professor from Cambridge University, renting a holiday home outside Cape Town, require a false identity and 3 bodyguards? And where is he, now that they are dead? The only clue to the bodyguards' murder is the snake engraved on the shell casings of the bullets that killed them.

My favourite detective, Benny Griessel is back in his fifth book - I've loved all of them. Benny is a recovering alcoholic (400+ days) and a member of an elite group of detectives in South Africa. His recovery is not easy, even with his new girlfriend and seemingly good life. Plagued with self-doubt and feeling like he is too old in many ways, Benny is struggling all the time and when he shows up to work on the first pages looking terrible and sloppy, his colleagues are concerned that he is back on the booze.

The mystery is top-notch, the pacing is great, the views from the police and from the other characters like the pick-pocketer who gets caught up in a crazy situation provide just enough information to see what the police are doing and what they do not know. The mystery was international and convoluted, but not so confusing I didn't know what was going on. Police procedurals are my favourite type of mystery and Meyer writes them extremely well. This one also used cell phones and technology as a major plot point.

The other members of Benny's team are well developed and add so much to the story. From Vaughn Cupido, the blow-hard, difficult to get along with member, to no gray-area, no-nonsense Mbali, I want more stories with these cops. More Mr Meyer, please may I have some more.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

REVIEW: Walt by Russell Wangersky

Walt by Russell Wangersky, 304 pages

Great little suspense mystery!

I first read Wangersky's short story collection, Whirl Away, and quite enjoyed it. Rereading my review makes me almost want to read it again. I also followed the link and reread Buried in Print's review, which is up to her very high standards. We are both Wangersky fans after the first book. Then, lo and behold, Russell began writing a column in my local newspaper. It's an Atlantic provinces syndicated editorial column. But what about Walt?

Yes, what about Walt. Walt is a lonely, middle aged janitor at a grocery store, who has a hobby of picking up disposed grocery lists, and trying to build a person based on what was on the list. Seems benign in the beginning. But he reveals that he lurks some of the women on Facebook, that some lists are written on the back of discarded bills (with addresses) and the reader begins to have some concerns about Walt. He's lonely, and quite a bit creepy.  Then some back story about his wife who disappeared as the marriage was breaking down. Two policemen in St John's, Newfoundland, are assigned to look into cold cases, and it seems Walt is a prime suspect in his wife Mary's disappearance. Walt is moving up a notch into lonely, creepy, maybe wife killer.

I liked the writing, I liked the pacing, I liked the different narrative voices (Walt, the cop, and Alisha's diary entries), and so help me, I kinda liked Walt. Well, maybe not liked, but I felt for him. He had no personal contact in his day to day life, not a single person to talk to. He developed a world that he was able to be content with, imagining these women from the grocery store. And it is not clear, for much of the story, whether Walt is a stalker escalating to killer, or a guy who is creepy, but harmless. The tension builds, slowly, and I loved how the book developed. Great read!




Thursday, February 19, 2015

UPDATE: Mid-February Stormy Days


 
not my house, but my driveway looked similar


The weather has been: Did I say it was stormy at the end of last month? I'm sorry - that storm was just a baby. A baby who grew into a temper tantrum toddler who let us know exactly how he/she felt. How to explain how stormy it's been? Buzzfeed has done a feature on us:   Terrifying Pictures of Snow in Eastern Canada  (although we are Atlantic Canada, not Eastern, but anyway) and here's a slide show from CBC : Islander Day Storm Pictures. Because, Yay! it happened on a long weekend. But we haven't been back to school all week as the roads are really not safe for buses. Crazy. It started snowing and blowing on Sunday and continued all day Monday. There were no plows on the roads, the bridge was completely shut down, and nothing was moving. When we got up on Tuesday morning, over 80 cm of snow had fallen. On top of the 75 cm the week before. Our suburban street and neighbourhood didn't see a plow until Wednesday, and that was just a one -lane path.
On the plus side, we never lost power, we are warm and fed, and there really was no where to go. Usually we say on PEI, it's not the snow, it's the wind. This time it was both, and the drifts are unbelievable, even though we keep taking pictures and talking about it, as if trying to make it believable.
 

 I am listening to:  I listened to Not that Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham. It was okay. I haven't seen Girls and I'm not familiar with her comedy so I wasn't coming in as a huge fan or anything but there were funny sections. Parts worked for me, but she's younger than me, and I didn't relate completely.
Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie is my current listen. I hadn't been a Miss Marple fan when I was younger, but I may be changing my mind.
Waiting for the next Veronica Roth book, Insurgent, and I Must Say by Martin Short.



 I am watching: Two seasons worth of  The Great British Bake-Off. Loving the show a lot, especially the polite nature of the competitive show. No need for 'advantages' or ways to hurt an opponent. Everyone is on equal footing, and the food rules. I love the blind judging of the technical challenge.
I also watched the SNL40 special which was perfect. So funny, so many great stars, great clips, great music, so many great memories. I thought Miley did a great version of 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover but whatever Kanye did wasn't needed. Norm MacDonald tweeted a behind the scenes story last night of the making of the show, which is well worth reading. @normmacdonald
I also like watching the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, the Canadian Women's Curling Championships. Yah, I'm a (Canadian) nerd.

 I am reading:
February started with The Handsome Man's De Luxe Cafe by Alexander McCall Smith, another wonderful outing with Mma Precious Ramotswe. I finished What We All Long For by Dionne Brand for my on-line family book club. Very Toronto book.
I'm well into Cobra, by Deon Meyers, the fabulous South African mystery writer. Cobra has an old character I like in Benny Griessel, great pacing, and an international mystery. Perfect for stormy days.



Books Entering House: I haven't been out of the house- how could books enter?



 Plans for the rest of February:
Finish Cobra; maybe start Skin by Mo Hayder, or a Canadian book for the Reading Bingo, Eh challenge and hopefully get back into a regular school routine.


Saturday, January 31, 2015

UPDATE: January



The weather has been:  Stormy! We had two storm days last week, which caused disruptions to final exams. Now a Saturday storm, the worst kind. However, it hasn't affected our travel plans. Husband and daughter got away to a ringette tournament yesterday, and tomorrow travel looks good for son on way to big basketball tournament. I got to meet all kinds of neighbours at the grocery store last night as people were stocking up for the weekend. Have you heard about our Maritime #stormchips? It's just about being prepared for being stormstayed, but there is some controversy about the origin of #stormchips.


 I am listening to: Divergent on audiobook. Very compelling so far; a mixture of Uglies and The Giver. I finished Dancing Barefoot by and read by Wil Wheaton. That was a short set of essays about his life. Amusing and nerdy - total Wil Wheaton. If I don't have an audiobook on my phone these days, waiting for one to be ready at the library, I feel a bit twitchy. Loving audiobooks, partly because I listen to them while playing mindless FB games, so I feel less lazy, cause I'm reading too. Also, I am more likely to crochet a row if I have a book to listen to. Audiobooks actually make me more productive (except for the games)


 I am watching: Sunday night PBS line-up: Great British Baking Show, Downton Abbey, and Granchester. (And Celebrity Apprentice. It balances out the PBS.)
Also, thanks to the beauty of live-streamimg, I'm watching my kids at their tournaments - Atlantic Ringette Championships this weekend, and next week, The Coal Bowl Basketball tournament in Cape Breton. Our school, Charlottetown Rural Raiders are the defending champions and this is my son's last year of high school. There is a tinge of sadness watching their games this year, knowing this amazing group of boys won't play together again.
Youngest daughter, 11, is reading the Harry Potter books for the first time. "That Doleres Umbridge is quite the character!" Heh, heh, no kidding. So we've been watching HP movies as she finishes each book. She's up to The Order of the Phoenix. It's quite fun to enjoy her enjoyment of reading these books for the first time.

 I am reading: Final exams in math and physics? Then The Handsome Man's De Luxe CafĂ© by Alexander McCall Smith, the 15th book in the Number One Ladies Detective Agency. I also started Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth.

Books Entering the House: Some weeks books seem to multiply: I ordered Skin by Mo Hayder and The Federal Bureau of Physics Vol 2 with my Indigo gift card from Christmas; Cobra, the latest book by Deon Meyers,a review book from Random House; requested library books The Handsome Man's De Luxe Cafe and What We All Long For by Dionne Brand, which is a book for our online family book club.


 Plans for the February: Looks like a great reading month ahead, if I can get through all those books that just arrived. Plus, when I look at the Random House Bingo Reading Challenge, Eh, there are more books that I want to read.

January In Reading:
Number of Books Completed:
6
1. The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee - Sarah Silverman (audiobook)
2. The Street Lawyer - John Grisham
3. The Humans - Matt Haig
4. In the Garden of the Beasts - Erik Larson (audiobook)
5. Dancing Barefoot - Wil Wheaton (audiobook)
6. Walt - Russell Wangersky
Favourite Book of the Month:
Walt - Russell Wangersky

 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

REVIEW: November Books





How about some more snapshot reviews from more books I read last year? I still like having a bit of a record of what I read and what I thought (or can remember) about the books. Eventually I'll add some new books I'm reading in this actual year.



82. Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice - Phillip Hoose (audiobook)
One of those free audiobook downloads from the summer, this is the pre-Rosa Parks incident that seemed to prep the civil rights leaders for how to deal with Rosa Parks. Funnily, I started reading this just after I saw a Drunk History segment on Claudette Colvin.




83. The Paying Guests - Sarah Waters (576 pages)
I'm a Waters fan, but sometimes I like her books more after the fact, (other than Fingersmith, that was page-turning awesome). This was a period of time I enjoy - 1920s London, still World War One effects, but changing class structures are turning things on their head. Adding a secret lesbian daughter who becomes infatuated with her new tenant led to a good story. Things got a bit weird with a crime that occurred, and made me want to shake the stupid girls. The story went on a little long, and bad relationships are frustrating to read about regardless of who is in it. Still, an okay Sarah Waters is still a good read.

84. We Were Liars - E Lockhart (240 pages)
 One of those books it is best not to know too much about, and apparently my ability to foresee twists was gone on vacation while I read this, so I was quite surprised. This was a quick read that reminded me of another writer or story which I have not been able to remember.

85. Leaving Everything Most Loved - Jacqueline Winspear (352 pages)
Aww, the last of the Maisie Dobbs (until the next one; it's more that I got all caught up reading six Maisie Dobbs this year). I enjoy these contemplative books and seeing Maisie grow. Winspear took a year off to write a stand alone novel, but there is a new Maisie coming this year.

86. You Are One of Them - Elliott Holt (audiobook 8 h, 26 min)
Narrated by Cassandra Campbell who has narrated a lot of books I've listened to!
Sometimes I listen to audiobooks halfway, depending on what other task I am doing, and how much the book pulls me in. I remember the gist of this book which was partly set in 1980s Cold War America and Russia. A girl becomes a bit obsessed with Russia after her school friend crashes in a plane crash after becoming famous for an invitation from Russia. (That poorly constructed sentence is brought to you by my poor memory of this book) But did she die? This is a book I think I would have enjoyed more in print form and my poor listening skills should not dissuade you from reading.

87. Dark Places - Gillian Flynn (audiobook 13 h, 44 min)
Best book of the month - it is actually one of my favorite reads from 2014. Now this one kept my attention! For fans of Gone Girl, I recommend this twisty, thrilling ride, but it is very twisted and dark. Libby Day's family was slaughtered when she was seven, and she identified her brother as the killer. Twenty years later, she is living off the trust fund and the attention of serial killer fans. She begins to wonder about her brother's guilt based on some of the serial killer fans. Warning: Fans of serial killers are not the worst thing that happens in this book.

There were three narrators - Libby, her brother Ben, and Libby's mother in the past, one of which is the delightful Cassandra Campbell again. The story goes back and forth, with more and more horrid (Satan worship, sex, drugs, etc, it gets bad) details being revealed. This is the fictional version of In Cold Blood; not really but it feels a lot like it.  I can't wait for the next Gillian Flynn novel!



Sunday, January 18, 2015

REVIEW: December Books

 


December wasn't the best reading month for me at all - I only got through 2 books and 2 very short audiobooks. Here's a little summary of what got what:

 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien DNF

 I really thought I might get through this book when it was picked for my book club this month - it's published as a children's book with larger font, but alas, it didn't not work. (It was probably our least discussed book - two of us didn't finish, one had read it years ago and didn't reread, one read it all, and the other gal didn't make it to the meeting) After 2 weeks of reading, I was still only half way through and couldn't care less what else happened to poor Bilbo Baggins. I can recognize the influences this may have had on other books, like Harry Potter, but it wasn't worth my time over the Christmas season.



 A Christmas Beginning - Anne Perry (audiobook) (in November)
 A Christmas Visitor - Anne Perry (audiobook)
 A Christmas Grace - Anne Perry (audiobook)

Each of these audiobooks are stand-alone Christmas books about 3 to 4 hours long. They feature minor characters from Perry's successful mystery series , Monk and Thomas Pitt, placed in new villages or towns for the season. It's a neat concept because these characters have never had much of a back story in some cases, and it allows Perry to take the familiar and build a whole world. There are 12 books in this series now - I think she publishes a new one each Christmas. I couldn't tell you what exactly happened in each but they made an easy story to listen to in the car for minutes at a time.


 A Royal Flush - Rhys Bowen

This is turning into a fun little series. Everyone heads up to Scotland and it looks like someone is trying to bump off members of the royal family. The queen is still trying to separate her son and 'that woman,' Mrs Simpson. Georgie is continually caught in the middle of things, brings in her lower class grandfather, trying to avoid getting married, and running into Darcy O'Mara. Nothing too deep, nice back-glance at historic events. I'll keep reading.

 A Royal Pain - Rhys Bowen Read this one in November - more of amusing same.



Station Eleven - Emily St. John Mandel

The best book of the month. I guess it is considered apocalyptic, what with most of the population of the world dying from a crazily infectious flu. The style is unique,  a back and forth in time with eventually all parts leading up to the same point. The book starts with an actor dying on stage just before the plague occurs, (in Toronto, just like SARS) and then follows the assorted people associated with the actor as the flu spreads, and then in the future. Lots of Shakespeare references, from the opening play of Hamlet, to the traveling orchestra and theatre troupe navigating  the abandoned roads performing Shakespeare as it was originally done. I was a little disappointed at the ending as not all the characters interacted as I would have liked to see. Part of the reason why this may been so popular is its slightly optimistic outlook of a grim future - this is no The Road. There are some dangerous people running around, but for the most part, people are just surviving. 

 I didn't get any books for Christmas this year, but I do have an Indigo gift card I'm dithering about what to get.  

I didn't  buy many books this Christmas. Youngest daughter likes the Dear Canada Diary books, and gave me a list of ones she has already read  but noted that she likes "the ones with adventure or disaster types, not boring ones about Confederation or someone moves here." Noted. I got Dear Canada: All Fall Down. The Landslide Diary of Amy Roberts. I think it was sufficiently disasterly. I also think it is the same landslide that was a central plot in the wonderful The Outlander by Gil Adams. I had bought the most recent Diary of a Wimpy Kid book, but when discussing before Christmas I misunderstood her and thought she already had it, so left it in my room to be returned. A few days after Christmas she mentioned that she didn't have it. Belated Christmas gift! I can't tell you how many times my procrastination was rewarded this Christmas. I'll never improve.

The other book news from Christmas was the beginning of a family book club. At one of those wonderful extended family gatherings (a Jersey party: we all wear hockey jerseys, eat great food, and watch a World Junior game - how Canadian are we?) it eventually ended up my sister and two of our younger cousins sitting together talking, as it often does. The 2 boys are like the younger brothers that we never had, and we are all kindred spirits. During this chat we were updating what books we've read, what movies and shows we've seen and someone mentioned how we should read a book on line together. Awesome idea! A private FB page was set up with all the readers in the family (cousins, aunts, uncles,etc) and we voted on a book from the Canada Reads nomination list. We have until March to get our book and then discuss it. Facebook such a great way for families to stay in touch (we have another private family page for pictures and news and chirping. Lots of chirping.)  and discuss a book as we are spread out over Canada. I'm very excited about this new book club.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Top Ten 2014 Releases I Meant To Read But Didn't Get To

 Top Ten 2014 Releases I Meant To Read But Didn't Get To 

Each week The Broke and the Bookish host Top Ten Tuesday

Just yesterday I was looking through some of those 'Best of 2014' lists and was trying to remember a few that I would like to get to this year. And now this is the Top Ten topic for today? Cool. A few of these I already have on request from the library, so I will get to them.

The Martian by Andy Weir

How to Be Both by Ali Smith

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin


Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant by Roz Chast

Walt by Russell Wangersky

Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham

 Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

 Any thoughts? Suggestions? Which ones do I *have* to get to?

CHALLENGE: Reading Bingo, Eh

 

Ideas:
  • A Scotiabank Giller prize nominated novel (Age of Longing)
  • A Scotiabank Giller prize winning novel
  • a book by a Canadian author (but not Margaret Atwood)
  • a book by Margaret Atwood (Oryx and Crake)
  • a book set in BC (Jpod by Douglas Coupland)
  • a book set on the East Coast   Walt by Russell Wangersky 
  • a book set in the Prairies
  • a book set in Toronto What We All Long For by Dionne Brand
  • a book by an aboriginal author
  • a book recommended by CBC
  • a Canada Reads nominated book
  • a work of nonfiction by a Canadian author
  • a Governor Generals award nominated book (Strange Heaven by Lynn Coady)
  • a mystery or thriller by a Canadian author
  • a book of poetry by a Canadian poet - Sheree Fitch
  • a book about a Canadian sports team - (Blue Jays book by Stephen Brunt)
  • a book by Alice Munro (The Lives of Girls and Women)
  • a Canadian novel that was adapted for screen (tv/movie)
  • a book with a red and white cover (Rex Murphy essays)
  • a book that was featured on Canada AM
  • a biography or autobiography of a Canadian celebrity (I Must Say by Martin Short)
  • a book that appears in #canlit
  • a book with snow on the cover
  • a book by LM Montgomery (The Blythes are Quoted, or House of Dreams)



This looks like it could be fun!
Hosted by RandomHouse Canada

Books Read:
1. Walt - Russell Wangersky
2. What We All Long For - Dionne Brand
3. 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

BOOK: The Bedwetter by Sarah Silverman

The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee by Sarah Silverman, 5 h 42 min

Sarah Silverman's memoir is not quite like Tina Fey's or Mindy Kaling's, other famous female comedians, although I associate the books somewhat together in the file sorter of my brain.  (I expect Amy Poehler's Yes, Please will complete that particular trilogy for me, which means I have to listen to her read it.) In fact, the blurb about this book includes a disclaimer quiz with questions such as:


2. Are you offended by the following behavior?
A Instructing one's grandmother to place baked goods in her rectal cavity.
B Stripping naked in public–eleven times in a row.
C Stabbing one's boss in the head with a writing implement.





Sarah Silverman is not for the faint of heart - she's got a real potty mouth and nothing is off limits - she is known as a blue comedian after all. Once that is all out of they way, it's a very Sarah book, read by her and I did enjoy it. If you are not a fan already, I wouldn't recommend this, but for those who find her funny, this was great. She covers some of her career highlights, and controversies, and stories from her childhood. I haven't watched her TV show but I've seen her on stand-up shows, and that Jimmy Kimmel episode with her famous video, "I'm F#2$ing Matt Damon," part of the hilarious on-going feud between Kimmel and Damon. She's all about the shock-value, so be fore-warned. I love her dead-pan delivery.





I recommend it to listen to while putting away all your Christmas decorations. Sarah and her Jewy-ness might appreciate the irony.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

CHALLENGE: Series Goals 2015



This has been my favorite challenge and the one I have the most success with - my own personal list of series to keep up with. Last year I read 24 books from my lists. Being able to get some audiobooks has helped a lot, and has rejuvenated some series for me.  Thanks again to SuziQoregon at Whimpulsive for the inspiration.

The Ones I got up to date in 2014. Will there be new books in my favorite series in 2015? 

Darko Dawson by Kwei Quartey
    Murder at Cape Three Points (March 18, 2014)
The Dublin Murder Squad by Tana French
The Number One Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
     The Handsome Man's Deluxe Cafe 
Vish Puri by Tarquin Hall
Inspector Armand Gamauche by Louise Penny
Flavia de Luce by Alan Bradley
   As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust (March 15, 2014)
Inspector Montalbano by Andrea Camilleri
     Game of Mirrors (April 2015)
Maggie Hope  by Susan Elia MacNeal
Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear
  A Dangerous Place (March 2015)


 Up to Date and Series is Done. :(
 Detective Erlendur by Arnaldur Indridason
Is there a prequel to Erlendur? Must look for Reyjevik Nights
 The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz
 Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin (Diana Norman)

 Still Working on...

 Harry Bosch by Michael Connelly
The Last Coyote
Trunk Music
Angels Flight
A Darkness More Than Night
City of Bones
Lost Light

 An Irish Country Series by Patrick Taylor
An Irish Country Courtship (audiobook Halifax)
A Dublin Student Doctor
An Irish Country Wedding
Fingal O'Reilly, Irish Doctor
An Irish Doctor in Peace and at War

 Jack Caffery by Mo Hayder (rec'd by suziQoregon)

Skin (2009)
Gone (2010)
Poppet
Wolf

 Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen
4. Royal Blood
5. Naughty in Nice
6. The Twelve Clues of Christmas
7. Heirs and Graces
8. Queen of Hearts
9.A Royal Threesome


The ones I want to start reading in 2015: 

Divergent by Veronica Roth
Divergent (audiobook)
Insurgent (audiobook)
Allegiant 

Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth 

Miss Marple series
Murder at the Vicarage (audiobook)
The Body in the Library  (audiobook)

 The Ones Where I thought I'd read in 2013 2014 and then didn't: 

Harry Hole by Jo Nesbo
The Devil's Star
The Redeemer
The Snowman
The Leopard
Phantom (playaway library)

Martin Beck Crime series by Per Wahloo and Maj Sjowall
6. Murder at the Savoy
7.The Abominable Man
8. The Locked Room
9. Cop Killer
10. The Terrorists

Commissario Brunetta by Donna Leon
2. Death in a Strange Country
3. Dressed for Death
5. Death in High Water


Matthew Shardlake by CJ Sansom
Dissolution (read in 2012)
Dark Fire
Sovereign
Revelation
Heartstone

Hazel Micallef - Inger Ash Wolfe
The Calling (read in 2012)
The Taken
A Door in the River




 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

LIST: Best Reading in 2014

Here is my 2014 Year in Reading. I fell apart on the blogging at the end of the year, but this is a good summary and it's practically all new content from me! 
Jamie from The Perpetual Page Turner has provided us with the questions that I copied from Trish.

Best of Reading in 2014

1. Best Book You Read In 2014?

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline on audiobook, read by Wil Wheaton. Fabulous!

 2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
 The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters
 I did like it, but didn't love it.

 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read in 2014?
The Hiding Place by Corrie ter Boom (audiobook)
I had never heard of this book, and didn't even realize it was non-fiction for quite a while. Written in 1974, it could be considered Anne Frank's lesser known 'hidden Jews in the house in Netherlands' cousin.

 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did) In 2014?
  The Bear by Claire Cameron

 5. Best series you started in 2014? Best Sequel of 2014? Best Series Ender of 2014?
-Series started: Her Royal Spyness - Rhys Bowen. Such a fun series! 1930s, London, tangential relationship to royalty. I read 3 in the series this year. Fun and cosy mysteries.

-Series Ender: Strange Shores by Arnaldur Indridason. I'm very sad this series is over.

-Series I Read the Most: Maisie Dobbs by  Jeannette Winspear. While the series didn't end, it could have. I read six books and got all up to date. Fabulous books.

 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2014?
I kept to the tried and true authors for the most part this year, but a few were intriguing and I'd like to look into their previous books:  
Harriet Lane who wrote Alys, Always; and Emily St. John Mandel who wrote Station Eleven

 7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?
I didn't read much outside my comfort zone this year. The closest would be a science fiction graphic novel, which was fun. 
Federal Bureau of Physics Vol 1 - Oliver Simon (graphic novel)

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?
This is why Ready Player One was my best book of the year! I remember being worried I wouldn't get through the 15h 40 min in the three week loan. Silly me! I couldn't stop listening at all.

 9. Book You Read In 2014 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?
Since Anne of Green Gables, of Avonlea, and of the Island were already re-reads (but I listened to them for the first time) I would have to say this series. I would listen to them again as well. Anne of Green Gables was  almost my top book of the year as well, but it didn't feel right to pick a book that I've read so many times. (But it still really was my favorite read of the year.)

 10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2014?

The Maggie Hope series by Susan Elia MacNeal have lovely covers and I listened to all three. This is the first series that I've only listened to. 

 11. Most memorable character of 2014?
Anna, the five year old narrator who gets herself and her two year old brother out of the woods in The Bear was very memorable.

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2014?
Love in the Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block. Wasn't quite as lovely as some of her other books, but her style is the most unique of any author I read; modern day fairytales.

 13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2014?
Chris Hadfield's An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth. He's a pretty inspirational guy.

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2014 to finally read?
I didn't read anything this year that could be called a classic book, nothing very old.  Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman qualifies only because I got it as a present probably 6 years ago and finally got around to reading (and loving) it.

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2014?
I never record quotes.

 16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?
Longest - has to the The Goldfinch at 776 pages, and Ready Player One at 15h 40 min (I dont' know how those compare)
Shortest - Highly Inappropriate Tales for Young People by Douglas Coupland, 144 pages

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most
(Because of a plot twist, character death, left you hanging with your mouth wide open, etc.)

Both Gillian Flynn books I listened to, Sharp Objects and Dark Places were full of surprises and great thrillers.
But Confessions of a Murder Suspect by James Patterson (a YA Sync Summer Download) was by far the craziest set of reveals in an unbelievable way.

18. OTP of the Year
(OTP = one true pairing — don’t worry, I had to look it up, too)
Even if I had one, I won't admit to this one.  Instead, let's make up another question to cover genres that this list doesn't have:
Best Historical Fiction was Longbourne by Jo Baker, based on Pride and Prejudice. Great historical and also a book based on another book. Maybe this is best sequel?

 19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year
The friends from Three Pines and Inspector Gamauche are consistently fun to read about. How the Light Gets In and The Long Way Home by Louise Penny.

 20. Favorite Book You Read in 2014 From An Author You’ve Read Previously
The Secret Place by Tana French. Love her mysteries.

 21. Best Book You Read In 2014 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:
We Were Liars by E Lockhart was recc'd by AMB at Misfortune of Knowing because of her intriguing review, which I only really started reading, and then stopped and read the book.
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion was a fun summer read given to my by a friend.

 22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2014?
Darcy O'Mara, the rogue-ish Irish fella who shows up at the perfect time to save Lady Georgiana in The Royal Spyness books.

 23. Best 2014 debut you read?
One More Thing by BJ Novak. Short and even shorter stories, from a funny guy. Very promising collection.

 24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?
Maddaddam by Margaret Atwood was pretty cool that way, as well as Ready Player One and Station Eleven for worldbuilding.

 25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?
 The Table of Less Valued Knights by Marie Phillips was a load of fun, as the knights not from the Round Table get to go on a quest. Plus, strong women, and gay men made this is Arthurian tale like no other.

 26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2014?
Mary Lawson never disappoints (both Road Ends and The Other Side of the Bridge) and Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy got to me a little bit.

 27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?
Last Night at the Lobster by Stewart O'Nan (audiobook) was a cute little slice of life.

 28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?
 I don't know if my soul can get crushed? What does that mean - heart broken?


 29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2014?
Ready Player One takes forever to explain what it is about because it really is unique.

 30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?
Easily The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. I did sort of like it, but get an editor, and fix up the technology references which took me out of the story every time.

 31. Books that I Abandoned? trish's extra question
Oh dear, The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien. After two weeks and only reaching 150 pages, and not caring a fig what happened to silly Bilbo Baggins, I gave up. Maybe the movie?

32. Best Other Book that Didn't get Mentioned Already or Fit These Categories? my extra question
Sometimes audiobooks aren't my best way to take in information as I'm much more visual. But some audiobooks just hit the spot. The Silent Wife by ASA Harrison was a great listen, with two narrators describing the end of a marriage and I enjoyed it a lot.

Summary of Reading:
# Read: 94
# audiobooks: 36
# non-fiction: 7
# book club books: 9
# library books: 29 (but not audio)

whew. Thanks for reading to the end. Agree? Disagree? Let's see yours.


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

TOP TEN TUESDAY: New-To-Me Authors I Read In 2014

The topic : Top New to Me Authors I Read in 2014. I read a lot of comfort authors this year, a lot of not new authors, which is different from a number of the last few years. This year was old reliable authors, with a few new ones thrown in. This list represents the ones I would read again.

George Saunders - The Tenth of December (short stories)

Chris Hadfield - Astronaut Extraordinaire

AS King - Reality Boy (really good YA story)

Graeme Simsion - The Rosie Project (cute, but I'm not sure I want to read the sequel)

Rhys Bowen - Her Royal Spyness mysteries (wonderful new to me series. Already read the second, and have the third on hand)

Jeanette Walls - The Glass Castle (already have the next book, Half-Broke Horses)

Claire Cameron - The Bear (5 year old narrator. Great book!)

 BJ Novak - One More Thing (short stories, and even shorter stories)

 ASA Harrison - The Silent Wife (audiobook, nice vibe, good narration)

Harriet Lane - Alys, Always (book club book, one of the books we've discussed the most. Interesting to look at motives, and reliability of narrator)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

AUDIOBOOKS: The Anne books by LM Montgomery

Although I've read the Anne books multiple times, this summer I started listening to Anne of Green Gables on audiobook. Anne was a book offered by SYNC, a great free summer listening series. I almost didn't start Anne, I've read her so many times, seen the plays, listen to the music from both plays: Anne of Green Gables and Anne and Gilbert. I mean, I live on PEI, and my middle name is Anne, with an 'e', for goodness sakes! And then I started listening and fell in love all over again. Colleen Winton did such a fabulous job of narrating, putting all the enthusiasm into Anne, adoration into Matthew, and gruff exterior into Marilla that I could ever want. I found myself in tears multiple times, which is a good thing. Listening provided a new view of these beloved books


Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery10 h 7 min
narrated by  Colleen Winton

This really is such a wonderful story, with those iconic characters. ( See how I can connect the characters from AoGG with The Bookthief in number 8.) I think Marilla was my favourite this time through. I cry every time Matthew appears in the book, but Marilla is the one who really changes and grows. I wasn't able to get Colleen Winton reading all the books. I think they are new release editions with her narrating, and I'd recommend her versions whole heartedly.



Anne of Avonlea by LM Montgomery 8 h 39 min
read by Shelley Frasier
I've listened to Frasier narrate Stiff by Mary Roach and she did a fine job. Anne has settled down by this book, and started attending college, so her enthusiasm is dampened. She did mispronounce a few Island names which annoyed me more than it would most other people. 
I was impressed realizing how close to the books the Anne and Gilbert play authors followed the books. Many phrases from the wonderful songs are straight from the books. This is a middle book in a trilogy, so not enough really happens; just bridging between books 1 and 3, but Mr Harrison, the grumpy neighbour adds quite a bit to the story.

Anne of the Island by LM Montgomery 8h 42 min
narrated by Renee Raudman

Because I get my audiobooks from the library, my choice of narrator is rather limited. I knew part way through that I'd listened to another book by Raudman and I was right. (I'd Tell You I Love You But Then I'd Have to Kill You, a silly YA series of espionage spy school for teenage girls)  She was good here as well and a little more subdued as befits the older Anne. Anne of the Island has Anne and Gil and Priscilla going off Prince Edward Island to attend Queens and get their BAs. There is much romance everywhere (except between Anne and Gilbert, arrrg!) as our characters are growing up.

Each time I started one of these audiobooks, I became immersed and listened non-stop. And I know everything that happens! If it has been awhile since you've read or reread the Anne books, I recommend grabbing a few audiobooks and loving them anew all over again.

Monday, October 13, 2014

CHALLENGE: Cook It Up!



Trish is hosting a Cook It Up! challenge. Try a new recipe, get out those cookbooks (or appliances) and try something new. I did a Mexican meal in the summer and for the fall, got cookie baking.

I was shopping in the summer with my mother, and she saw a cookie jar that she was going to buy, as it would look perfect in her kitchen. I stopped her and said to let me get it for her birthday, which was only a month away. It took me longer than it should have to realize I should make cookies and fill her jar before I gave it to her. Brilliant! (eventually)


I got out my Pillsbury Best Cookies cookbook and browsed for a while. I limited myself to cookies that were not heavily chocolate based, which although goes against most of what I believe in, fit more in line with the type of cookies my mother prefers. It was her birthday after all.

I made Coconut Macaroons, Brown Sugar Shortbread Puffs, Shortbread Triangles, Zucchini Cookies from the book, and Cake Batter Cookies from a Pinterest recipe.

Coconut Macaroons
These were fabulous! I may have had to make a second batch so there would be some left to give. They also made me look for recipes with only egg yolks, but now I have a list that I inserted in the Macaroon recipe page with recipes to try with yolks only, so I'll know what to do with those 2 egg yolks left-over after I make macaroons. More brilliant me!
And I will be making them again. Yum!
Shortbread Triangles and Zucchini Cookies
Everyone needs a zucchini recipe in the fall, right? I have an excellent chocolate zucchini bundt cake, and I always love a bundt cake. But you get a lot of zucchini, so a cookie recipe was called for. There was oatmeal, and spices as well as mini-chocolate chips.
The shortbread triangles were a slice and bake and used an egg yolk!  Pretty easy and quite yummy; a good shortbread recipe.

But not as good as the Brown Sugar Shortbread Puffs. They were a drop recipe and required no chilling, but one egg yolk! They didn't drop very pretty, and seemed a little dry as I baked them. Because they were a little rough around the edges, I went fancy and made a glaze with icing sugar and milk to put on top which added just the pizzazz these tasty cookies needed. A little chewy with that butterscotch edge - definitely going on the make again list. These did not get photographed for some reason. Neither did the completed cookie jar. But it was a great present and my parents both loved it.





Tuesday, September 23, 2014

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Top Ten Books On My Fall To-Be-Read list


The Broke and the Bookish host Top Ten Tuesday every week - head over to see other posts with fall reading. My fall reading is dominated by the creepy and the mysterious RIP reading. And lots of female authors. Don't you feel lucky Stephen King?


The Secret Place by Tana French
Must read everything (MRE) author with a new book out!

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters
Must read everything (MRE) author with a new book out!

The Long Way Home by Louise Penny (audiobook)
I listened to the last book and quite enjoyed it. Looking forward to seeing where she takes this series, besides Three Pines

Leaving Everything Most Loved by Jacqueline Winspear
This will get me up to date on Maisie Dobbs. Another series which gets better and better.

Anne of the Island by LM Montgomery (audiobook)
I've been re-immersed in my beloved Anne books, by listening. Really enjoying Marilla this time round.

The Prime Minister`s Secret Agent by Susan Elia MacNeal (audiobook)
The only series I've never read, just listened to. I've started it already!

Just After Sunset by Stephen King
To get my short-story fix by Uncle Steve.

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn  (audiobook)
Last week's post of author's to read again, plus those Gone, Girl movie teasers, has me inspired to listen to some older Gillian Flynn

Alys, Always by Harriet Lane
Book club book for October will certainly get read

Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling)
Found this book second hand recently, and although I've been good about not buying too many books, this was too good to pass up. One dollar!




Tuesday, September 16, 2014

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Top Authors I've Only Read One Book From But NEED to Read More


 The topic this week from The Broke and the Bookish: Top Authors I've Only Read One Book From But NEED to Read More. This was an easy topic for me. For a number of years, I even kept track of New Authors I've read, so I only had to go back and look at the lists to find authors that made me go, "Oh, I need to read another of theirs!" I did find lots of favorite authors that I have now read more than one, but this list should also include:

Allegra Goodman - I liked Intuition a lot. It was a balanced look at scientific research that had real, interesting characters. Her book, The Cookbook Collector had been recommended to me, looks good, and is in my town library.

Connie Willis - I've read Miracle and Other Christmas Stories which I enjoyed. Doomsday Book, To Say Nothing of the Dog, or Blackout are the books that interest me. She writes science fiction, time-travel, and historical fiction

Gillian Flynn - Gone Girl was a fantastic dark ride with twists and terrible people. There are a couple of her books available on audio at my library, so Sharp Objects and Dark Places are on my short list to get to.

Lauren B Davis - Her book based on the Goler clan was a fantastic piece of writing. Our Daily Bread got me interested, and then buriedinprint raved about her other book, The Empty Room. Looks like a great Canadian author to get behind.

Patricia Highsmith - The Talented Mr Ripley was a creepy, dark book and while I'm not interested in more Ripley books, there are five altogether, her book Strangers on a Train looks deliciously suspenseful.

CJ Sansom - A great historical mystery series set during Henry the VIII? Why have I not read more? I read the first book, Dissolution, and I really want to read more in the series.

Tom Perrotta - I loved The Little Children when I read it in 2011. Perrotta writes general fiction, about people, and yet there was an edge to the book. The Leftovers or The Abstinence Teacher both pique my interest every time I see the titles.

Claire Messud - I listened to The Woman Upstairs and it was one of those books that had me still thinking of it months later. Another book by Messud, maybe The Emporer's Children, is in order.

Elizabeth Taylor - Mrs Palfry at the Clarement was one of those delightful British books I enjoy. The other Elizabeth Taylor wrote a number of books that are considered classic and under-appreciated.

Wilkie Collins - The Woman in White was a pretty good mystery, especially for a classic author. He's got another classic, The Moonstone, I'd like to try.




Thursday, September 4, 2014

AUDIOBOOKS: Sync Young Adult books



At the first of the summer, Sync again offered pairs of audiobooks to download each week. This is the first year I`ve made the effort and signed up to get the emails each week for a reminder. Awesome! I certainly didn`t get through all the books but I still have them on my iPhone, as they are free, and don`t expire. Thanks Sync! The link to the Sync site has an archive of all the books that have been offered, although you can only ever get a book the week it is offered.

Each week, a modern newer release is paired with a classic book. So, you might get Code Name Verity with The Hiding Place. The Case of the Cryptic Crinoline with The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Murder at the Vicarage with Confessions of a Murder Suspect. Not every book is available in every country - Canada missed out on a couple; sadly one was Murder at the Vicarage, which I would have loved.



Confessions of a Murder Suspect - James Patterson

Patterson has a real industry of writers now, and is venturing into suspenseful, thrilling young adult books. This is a stand-alone, but is part of a series called Confessions Series. This was a wild ride, with a crazy family, and twists and turns that make you rewind and say, What?!? The parents are killed and the four kids are suspects. The daughter narrates and it is very dramatic. I can`t even begin to tell the secrets that come out, but I did listen through pretty quickly. (I`m not interested in another by him, but it was still engaging in its unbelievability)



 I'd Tell You I Love You But Then I'd Have to Kill You - Ally Carter

The first of 6 books in the Gallagher Girls series. Very young adult series, and I would have really enjoyed it if I was 14 years old. Told in first person, the narrator is a student at a espionage school for girls. They are quite historic and renown, and it is very exaggerated in what the girls can do and learn. And still, the focus of their lives is boys. But the town boys don`t like the Gallagher Girls! It`s Romeo and Juliet and kissing. Cute enough, but I`ll survive if I don`t read any more.
This was paired with Anne of Green Gables - spunky girls!




All Our Yesterdays - Cristin Terrill

Time travel books are always hard on my head, and this one was no exception. I just find it hard to keep track of who is where, and what each person knows, and how did this now affect the past/future? It took a while to get into the story, and figure out what was going on and who the present and past people were, but then it was good with lots of twists and turns. Must save the world!

This was paired with Julius Caesar, performed by Richard Dreyfuss, JoBeth Williams, Stacy Keach, Kelsey Grammer, and a full cast. I tried to listen, but I didn`t have the attention or, quite frankly, the interest.


 The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Arthur Conan Doyle 
Can`t go wrong listening to a few classic Sherlock Holmes. A little dramatic in the presentation with some music but still, it`s Sherlock, which makes me want to watch Benedict Cumberbatch, or Robert Downey Jr. There are two adaptations of Holmes that I think are almost better than the books.




The Case of the Cryptic Crinoline - Nancy Springer

Actually book 5 in the Enola Holmes series, but easy enough to pop into the series. Enola is the younger sister of Sherlock and Mycroft and is herself an accomplished detective. Nothing too fancy here, but it was cute and fun and I`d possibly listen to another. It`s definitely for young adults/children as clues were repeated and emphasized, but that just made me feel smart. I did love the Florence Nightengale aspect of this one.





The Hiding Place - Corrie ten Boom
I didn`t realize for quite a while into this book that is was non-fiction. It is also identified as a Christian book, but if I hadn`t read that, I wouldn`t have thought it. It is a wonderful book, set in occupied Holland during WW2. Corrie ten Boom wrote this in the 1970s, remembering her and her families effort in the Underground Resistance. Gives a little hope of the goodness of people amidst the Holocaust.  This should be paired with The Diary of Anne Frank in schools - is there anything more compelling than real life? Definitely my favorite of all the books I`ve listened to from Sync this summer.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

BOOK: The Table of Less Valued Knights by Marie Philips

The Table of Less Valued Knights by Marie Philips, 310 pages

Random House Canada review copy

Things you need on a good quest: a knight, a maiden, a squire, a lady in a lake, an elephant. Wait, you don`t remember an elephant in any of King Arthur`s tales? Well, this isn`t your father`s King Arthur!

This is even better, with a, dare I say it, feminist slant? Because the knights and the kings and the squire (an undersized giant) are not that good. Not good at all. And the maiden, Elaine, looking for her kidnapped finance as well as Martha, a run away Queen looking for her long lost brother are by far, the wisest of this crowd. Oh, Sir Humphrey du Val tries, but he hasn`t been allowed on a quest in many years and has been relegated to the square table, with one shorter leg, the Table of Less Valued Knights that you have never heard of.

This is a decidedly humorous take on Camelot. Martha disguises herself as a boy for her quest to escape her new husband (who thinks he`ll be King, not the King Consort) and find her long lost brother, the rightful king. Martha meets up with Sir Humphrey and his quest for Elaine, and it practically becomes a Three`s Company episode of misunderstandings.

Described as a Monty Python meets The Princess Bride, expect Jemima the elephant to carry our heroines and heroes, the lady in the lake to be rather flaky, magic to `almost` work, gay characters to appear, battles between kingdoms for stupid male reasons to be ridiculed, custom officials to deal with as you enter a kingdom, and everyone trying to find a partner. All in all, great fun!