Saturday, April 18, 2015

BOOK: Torn from Troy: Odyssey of a Slave by Patrick Bowman

Torn From Troy: Odyssey of a Slave by Patrick Bowman (5 h 28 min)
narrated by Gerald Doyle

Neat take on The Odyssey by Homer. I have not yet read the original, but have read some other versions, including The Odyssey by Gareth Hinds in graphic novel form, and The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood last year. Here we have a young Trojan boy taken as a slave after the Greeks leave Troy. Alexi's father had been killed in the invasion, and as the Greeks retreat, his sister is killed in the final battle. Being able to watch the story of Odysseus (here called Lopex sometimes) from a different point of view is fun for readers who already know the story, but would also introduce the legend to new readers or children.

This is one of my last books from last summer's YA SYNC downloads and was an easy and enjoyable listen. It is the first in a series, so that was a little disappointing as the full journey of Odysseus doesn't get told. Alexi does get to experience the Lotus-Eaters and the Cyclops; he gets to know Odysseus, who recognizes Alexi's strengths as a healer and his intelligence, as well as Yuri, a mean Greek who would love to kill the little slave. Life on the ship is interesting and original, against the backdrop of the well known mythology.

This was my first read for the Once Upon a Time challenge and would be a mythology book. 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

CHALLENGE: Once Upon a Time IX



“Come away, O human child: To the waters and the wild with a fairy, hand in hand, For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.”
~William Butler Yeats

The 9th Once Upon A Time hosted by Stainless Steel Droppings is the true beginning of spring. The signs around here (we still have 4-5 feet of snow on our lawn and I'm not exaggerating!) are not conducive to actual spring. I've seen some posts on Facebook that say the spring birds are arriving and can't get at the ground. It's pretty depressing around here with just piles of old dirty snow.

Of course I'll read a book for this challenge this year. Something in the fantasy, folklore, mythology, or fairy tales area. There are none that I'm specially planning to read, but there are a few floating around that I might read, including a read-a-long of Little, Big by John Crowley hosted by Bellezza. I also have one of the YA Sync audiobooks from last summer, Torn from Troy to listen to. That's probably pretty high on my list actually.

What I Read:
1.Torn from Troy: Odyssey of a Slave - Patrick Bowman (audiobook)
2.



Tuesday, April 7, 2015

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Top Ten Characters You'd Like To Check In With

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The topic this week for Top Ten Tuesday hosted at The Broke and the Bookish is Characters You'd like to check in with.



Some of my favorite people have been checked in on - Bridget Jones (Mad About the Boy), Signora from Evening Class (Maeve Binchy kept revisiting old characters in each new book), Harry Potter (had the epilogue, which was enough). Crow Lake characters, by Mary Lawson, are seen in Road Ends and The Other Side of the Bridge. Of course, Anne Shirley got a whole series of books, so we know what happened there. The television series even made up a different ending for Anne  - a journalist is WW1?

On the other hand, many books I've read I was happy with the ending, happy with how the characters ended up and did not feel a need for a sequel. (The Rosie Project would be a great example - I never read the sequel) Even some series 'end' up enough for me at times - I'm almost finished of Flavia de Luce, even though I loved her first few books. She got older and lost her naive charm. There are a few characters however...



Rilla Blythe  - Anne and Gilbert's youngest daughter grew up during world war 1 and got her somewhat happy ending, but more would be nice!

Katniss Evergreen- and then?

Mary Gooch from The Wife's Tale by Lori Lansens - I would love to know what happened to Mary. When I read the book, I thought a retelling from her husband's point of view would be neat as well.

Amy and Nick Dunne - How did those crazy kids (and kid) turn out? Who killed who first?

Lisbeth Salander - The Girl Who ... turned out okay? found some love?

unnamed narrator of The Outlander by Gil Adamson - the last line in this book practically set up a sequel

And the most recent book I listened to, The 4:50 to Paddington by Agatha Christie, left with Lucy Eyelesbarrow, Miss Marple's helper in this book, being interested in someone. Miss Marple predicts Lucy'll marry one of the two eligible characters, but she didn't say which!? I was not impressed! Actually, Lucy Eyelesbarrow herself was a very interesting character, and could have sustained a book or two of her own.

That's all I can think of for now. Once I read some other Top Ten Lists, I'm sure I realize who I forgot.



Wednesday, April 1, 2015

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Ten Books You Recently Added To Your To-Be-Read List

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I completely missed Tuesday - so here I am a day late. The sad part is I even had this ready to go ahead of time. Top Ten Tuesday Whateverdayyougetitposted topic is books you've recently added to your to-be-read list.



This list is a blend of Bailey Prize for Women's Fiction titles, and me looking for authors and their new books at Chapters online. Some aren't even released yet, but they go on the list once you become aware.


Reykjavik Nights by Arnaldur Indridason
A prequel of sorts, with early cases by Erlendur, how did I miss the release of this one?


The Mountain Story by Lori Lansens
The Girls and The Wife's Tale were excellent. I also have her Rush Home Road to read before I tackle her latest book

Mrs Roosevelt's Confidente by Susan Elia MacNeal (Oct 27 2015)
The next in the Maggie Hope spy series, I'll wait for an audiobook copy as it is the only way I've read this series

The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny (Aug 25,  2015)
Another Gamauche book

Funny Girl by Nick Hornby
I haven't read a Nick Hornby in quite a while; they are generally excellent

The ones from the Bailey list that intrigue me:

Crooked Hearts by Lissa Evans (July  28, 2015)


Elizabeth is Missing by  Emma Healey

The Girl Who Was Saturday Night by Heather O'Neill














Wednesday, March 25, 2015

BOOK: Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng and The Girl on the Train

These books will be linked together for me for a long time, for no literary reason at all:
  • I read both on the March Break 
  • This March Break (and winter) was full of blizzards and snow that shuts down the Confederation Bridge, and warnings from RCMP to stay off the road, and picture after unbelievable picture of snow banks and drifts, and even though it is not something I do very often, I promise to never complain about summer weather in any way shape or form.
  • Both books are from my first Top Ten List of 2015 (books from 2014 I wish I'd read)
  • Both books are from my school library and the awesome school librarian who gets books for 'mature readers'; and who knows that books for teachers are important too! We model reading after all and discuss books with our students - a culture of reading
  • Plus they were excellent reads! A touching family drama, and a suspense mystery.


Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng, 292 pages

First of all, I really like this cover. I also really liked the inside book as well. I spent much of the novel being frustrated with this family, and the parents lack of awareness about anything - their own wishes, their children, their hurts. A Chinese father and Caucasian mother meet and marry in 1970s middle America. They love each other, and make sacrifices for each other, but neither is very happy. Once their children come along, the blue-eyed daughter Lydia becomes the focus for both parents to project their deepest hurts - the dad never fit it, never had friends as an American born Chinese child; the mom wanted to be a doctor not a housewife. The other two children, especially the youngest, will just break your heart.

The book starts with the line 'Lydia is dead' and then moves forward and back to unravel what happened. (Side note: this is not a literary thriller, and book blurb writers or reviewers who attempt to label it thus need to read some Deon Meyer and Mo Hayder, because those are thriller/mysteries. Just because there is something the reader doesn't know, doesn't make a book a mystery or thriller. I've been misled before.) This was a touching book that covered many issues that will have you immersed in this family's sad life.



The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, 318 pages

It gets compared to Gone Girl, but for me it is only in how information is revealed, and how people aren't exactly what you think they are. A girl watches people and couples from the train. One day she sees something, and eventually police are involved. That's all you need to know. Just enjoy the revelations as they come.  I've said too much already!

For some reason, I thought this was Canadian, so when she took the train to London, I was a bit confused, because why not Toronto?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Top 10 Books From My Childhood That I Would Love To Revisit









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 Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. The topic this week: Books from My Childhood That I Would Love to Revisit. Some of these are cheats, because I have revisited them, and I've watched my children read this (and generally love them as well). Some are classics, but some are little known scholastic books from the monthly book order in elementary school. The book orders were really a highlight - rationing my allowance to get a book, poring over the descriptions to decide which book to get, and then when the order came in - waiting for my book.



Follow My Leader by James B Garfield

A young boy is blinded playing with firecrackers, and learns to be independent with the help of a guide dog. My kids have all read my original edition.
My Mother Made Me! by Sharon Brain

Four girls try to protest against their mothers signing them up to play hockey. They run away, in the summer, to the local rink and hide out their, ironically, playing a form of hockey to keep themselves amused. I really remember them and the bats in the rink.








The Great Brain
by John D Fitzgerald

I must have read and reread this series more times than I can count. Such a fun, historic series. It was set in the same era as Anne of Green Gables, so I was familiar with local life at that time, but Utah in the late 1800s in a Mormon community was very different. Classic comedy books!







Why Me? by John Branfield

It took me a long time to find out about this book which I reread a few times in elementary school. A young girl gets diabetes and it takes helping her dog, who also gets diabetes, for her to learn to look after herself and accept her diabetes. Apparently sometimes called Sugar Mice, I eventually found the name and author through a librarything group called Name That Book?




This Can't Be Happening At MacDonald Hall by Gordon Korman

I was in grade five when the first of the prolific author Korman's first book was published. He wrote this as a school project when he was a teenager and I still can rememeber Mrs Adams laughing so hard as she tried to read aloud this book that she couldn't read at all. (the panty-raid at Miss Scrimmages!) Korman is still one of my favorite authors for this series, as well as the incredible stand-alone book, I Want to Go Home. It can't be a coincidence that the short story I wrote in grade 8 is very similar to Korman's books of humour and mistaken identity.



The Bobbsey Twins  by Laura Lee Hope
The Bobbsey Twins and the Doodlebug Mystery by Laura Lee Hope

I was never much of a Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew reader. I read a few, but the series I really loved was the Bobbsey Twins. Nan and Bert, Freddie and Flossie - I couldn't get enough of those sets of twins. I even had an original, before the mystery series, edition book, which was just a story of their life. They had a black maid and her accent made me uncomfortable. I don't even know if this edition is still around. I'm pretty sure the mysteries from the 1970s were a cleaned up version, and probably not even written by Laura Lee Hope. We had a childhood friend who had nearly every book in the series. That row of purple books in her bed room was to die for.
The DoodleBug Mystery is one that I remember the best.

Free to Be, You and Me by Marlo Thomas

We had this as a hard cover, filled with all kinds of wonderful short stories, poems, songs, and cartoons. William Wants a Doll, The Pain and the Great One, and the notes back and forth between two friends negotiating for the girl to pitch on the baseball team.




Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume

I had a hard time deciding which Judy Blume book to pick, because really, Judy is the author of my pre-teens. Not so amazingly, she still rocks with the elementary set. My kids loved Fudge, and all the books about Fudge. She is as relevant as ever.





Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary
Another author who has not lost her mojo, Ramona books are still as popular as ever. While finding this cover, I discovered that Ms Cleary is still alive at 98! There needs to be a little more recognition of this great author. Henry Higgins, Ramona, and Socks are all characters I remember fondly.

    




Heidi by Joanna Spryri
Essentially Anne of Green Gables in Switzerland, is it any wonder I loved this book too? I read this and the sequel and still want to go to Switzerland.
ETA: I knew I'd forget something - Enid Blyton! We had a bunch of her books, but The Faraway Tree is the one I read and reread. (I think it is called that. Cathy?) Everytime they went up in the tree, they went to a new land. Probably started my love of British books.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Spring TBR List

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March Break! Perfect day being home and able to post for Top Ten Tuesday hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Of course, I'd be home regardless today because ANOTHER BLIZZARD has hit the Maritimes, another 54 cm of snow, 24 hours of blowing snow causing unbelievable drifts. At this point, I am unable to be impressed with yet another picture of a snow drift because it causes my brain to shut off. This is not possible. What is possible apparently, is another drop of 15-20 cm snow tonight/tomorrow. Which isn't a lot, but when the first pile hasn't been cleaned up? Seriously, weather? We give up. 

Books I Hope to Read this Spring (or as we call it, the Winter continued)

Books in continuing series...

Gone by Mo Hayder
I finished Skin last week, and this is the third in a mini-trilogy within the series, so I want to read it while I still remember what happened in Skin.


Game of Mirrors by Andrea Camilleri
The latest in Inspector Montalbano will be released in April, with another one translated this fall so I better stay on top of this series. Camilleri is turning 90 this year. Remember when I wrote about Sicily and my love of the series? 



Books from the Bailey's Prize for Women's Longlist...

  The Girl Who Was Saturday Night by Heather O'Neill
A Canadian nominated for the Bailey's! I've read her Lullabies for Little Criminals and remember it as gritty Montreal.



How to Be Both by Ali Smith
I read her There But For The book when it was last nominated for the Bailey's Prize, but I get her mixed up with Zadie Smith and I think I liked her NW better.  Oh my, that's not an appealing cover.




Audiobooks...

The Moving Finger by Agatha Christie
A Murder is Announced by Agatha Christie

Both are requested at the library and should arrive soon.



Books from my own shelves...
Triptych by Karin Slaughter
A new series with Will Trent set in Atlanta. If I get this read, the rest of the series is available in audiobook from the library.



Strange Heaven by Lynn Coady
I picked this up at a used book sale somewhere along the way. I have no idea what this book is about, but I am using it for a Governor Generals award nominated book for the Reading Bingo, Eh challenge.


A Canadian authored book from my shelves. I really don't care which one it is, and I have plenty to pick from - The Age of Longing by Richard B Wright, essays by Rex Murphy, Rush Home Road by Lori Lansens, Lives of Girls and Women by Alice Munro, The Last Crossing by Guy Vanderhaege, Republic of Love by Carol Shields, Orxy and Crake by Margaret Atwood,

 Book for Bookclub...
Fly Away Home by Jennifer Weiner
Looks like an easy fun read for my next book club meeting.

Friday, March 13, 2015

SERIES: Miss Marple by Agatha Christie

Years ago, as a teenager, I read a lot of Agatha Christie (and Ed McBain and Stephen King - the usuals.) I was a huge Poirot fan, with his little grey cells and logic.  A few Tommy and Tuppence, which on re-read later, are even better! I must have read some Miss Marple because I know I actively avoided her stories. I think the reason I wasn't a fan was that she didn't appear to be a part of the story. I wanted my detective front and center and for me to be a part of the reasoning process.  I guess people change as they get older, and aren't I lucky now to have all the Miss Marples to read Brand New? Yes, I am a lucky girl. Most of the Miss Marples are available on audiobook through my library, so it will be a very Jane Marple-y year for me.


Murder at the Vicarage  (7h 19 min)

I wasn't really a fan of the narrator, Joan Hickson. She was very British, which I liked, but also rather breathy, which I didn't; and the narrator was actually a male in the story, which was weird.  But the story was great, I really liked the Vicar and his young wife. I suffer a little with actual poor listening skills, so I mix up characters and don't remember names (who is that girl?) when I can't see the letters. Interestingly, I don't remember names when I read them either, but I recognize the arrangements of letters as that person. I was very excited to realize that I 'do' like Miss Marple, and now have over ten books to read and mostly listen to. 




The Body in the Library (5 h, 21 min)

I'm going to try to read the series in order, as best I can. This narrator, Stephanie Cole, was an improvement. I noticed that the vicar and his wife were mentioned, and while it would not affect the story in the least, seeing Griselda and Dennis Clement a year or so later added much enjoyment for my experience. (I really like to read my mystery series in order, even if you don't need to.) This was a particularly well plotted book with perhaps fewer characters, and unraveling all the characters and their motives and their actions is great fun. Especially for a little old lady well versed in village behaviours. I hate to imagine how old Miss Marple really was; dare I say a young middle age by today standards, like my age.

Next up: The Moving Finger in book edition form. I think it is even in large print version, so not the most popular of the Marples. Then will be A Murder is Announced.

Agatha Christie is the GOAT of mystery writers.

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.