Tuesday, June 21, 2016

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Top Ten Summer tbr

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted at The Broke and the Bookish. The topic is supposed to be the Top Ten Favourite 2016 Releases. I haven't read enough books published this year to even have a list of top ten. Instead, I am going to make my Summer TBR list. I like making these plans to remember what books I want to read, and not get distracted by other books that come in my view. 
Not that it really matters, I'll read what I want, when I want.

titles I've meant to read (my Once and Again challenge)

Cookbook Collector by Allegra Goodman

The Emperor's Children by Claire Messud

Ongoing series:
The Night Bell by Inger Ash Wolfe #4 in Hazel Micallef series

Cracks in the Kingdom by Jaclyn Moriarty #2 in Colours of Madeleine

Fallen by Karin Slaughter #5 in Will Trent series

Canadian books:
something by Coupland

Fifteen Dogs by Andre Alexis 

The Water Rat of Wanchai by Ian Hamilton

new titles catching my eyes:
The Fireman by Joe Hill

The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Top Ten Most Anticipated Releases

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted at The Broke and the Bookish. The topic this week is the most anticipated new releases.  I didn't think I could do this one, as I seldom buy new books. Except,... it is fun to start the summer with a new bought book. Most years, when I leave school on June 30th for the summer, I head to Indigo and treat myself to a brand spanking new book. So it was fun to look up what books are coming out in the next few months. Plus, I do keep an eye on my favourite mystery series. There are some good ones coming this fall!

The Fireman by Joe Hill  May 17
I'm seeing some buzz about this Joe Hill book and I started to make great plans,  but then I saw it's over 700 pages! Dude, you don't have to write books as long as your father. But, if it is as epic as some of your dad's books, I may give it a try.

End of Watch by Stephen King June 7
Third in a trilogy centered on a police officer, I've read the second one (and with all the back story supplied in Finders Keepers) I feel comfortable heading right to the last book.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child July 30
I didn't realize this was coming out. It reminds me of the last few books, getting the new release and reading all night. I can see getting this and fighting my teenagers to read it. All three read the whole series at least once. 

Oblivion by Arnaldur Indridason August 23
Another book with Erlunder's early cases? Awesome! Can't wait to head back to Iceland

A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny August 30
The latest in the Inspector Gamauche  and the folks of Three Pines will be released late this summer. I have been listening to the last few, so will wait for an audio version to listen to.

The Darkest Dark by Chris Hadfield September 13
Commander Hadfield has a children's book coming out about dreams and facing your fears. Is there anything this guy can't do? Pretty amazing Canadian!

The Wonder by Emma Donaghue September 20
A new book by Emma Donaghue? Woo hoo! I've read a number of her books now and she hasn't disappointed, even with the variety of styles and books she's written. This also reminds me that I should be checking on some of her back titles.

The Trespasser by Tana French October 4
Probably the book I am most excited about! I just love the Dublin Murder Squad and French has been getting better and better with each new book.

Icarus by Deon Meyer October 21
A new Benny Griessel book? Two weeks after a new Tana French? I'll be a happy reader come October. These are the two authors I will actually purchase their new books. What case will poor Benny be investigating in South Aftica, and will his head be on straight?

Mike Myers' Canada October 22
This? Looks awesome! I mean, Martin Short's book was excellent, and he drives me crazy. I'm a fan of Mike Myers and he is writing about his love of Canada? I will probably read Douglas Coupland's book about Canada (and Terry Fox) to get myself primed for this one.

Friday, May 27, 2016

AUDIOBOOKS: YA Sync Summer Books 2016

Don't forget - Free Audio books all summer long!

Each week, 2 young adult audio books are made available. Sign up for email or text reminders, because the books are only available for download for one week, but you get to keep them forever. You can even download one copy on your phone, and another onto your computer.

*Some books not available in all countries. I think we don't get 3 this year in Canada.

This week, the theme is: Finding Her Own Voice


I haven't 'read' or listened to any of this season's books, but they are waiting for me!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

CHALLENGE: Once Upon a Time X

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings
Although I don't read a lot of fantasy and fairy tales, I don't want to miss out on being a part of Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings' tenth edition of the Once Upon a Time Challenge. Follow the link to find  out more information, or to sign up if you want.

The rules are very simple and can be summarized thusly:

Have fun.

There are many aspects to the challenge that you can participate in: reading, watching, playing. The four categories are fantasy, fairy tales, mythology and folk lore. Watch a movie, play a game, read a book, or more than one. I go through spells where I find some fantasy/fairy tale type books, but they certainly aren't my go to books. I will plan to read one book which is the Journey.

Book Ideas:
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson (seen on R squared Reading Rachel's blog)

Books Read:
1. Nimona - Noelle Stevenson

Sunday, April 10, 2016

UPDATE: April so far

First time to have crucuses bloom!

The weather is:
Almost spring? There is was no snow (except for the pile that fell last night, but it will melt, I'm sure) All the bulbs I planted last fall are poking through the ground.

I am listening to:
Audiobook: The Great Leader by Jim Harrison. He died a few weeks ago, so I thought I'd try a little audiobook. It's a mystery, so I like that. Not so much all the leering at women he does. Hopefully the mystery goes well.

Just finished listening to Finders, Keepers by Stephen King. Another book that turned out to be a mystery, although this is the second in a series, after Mr Mercedes which I haven't read. It was a good King listen/read.

I am watching:
Firstly, I'm so excited that Call the Midwife is back on the air - best show on Television. I also quite enjoy Grantchester, the 50s mystery that airs after on my local PBS station.

On the other hand, I also can't stop watching Project Runway All Stars, and Project Runway Junior which are both airing now.
What can I say - I'm a gemini and have two sides that need to be nourished!

I am reading: 
Just finished A God in Ruins which I liked better than its companion book, Life After Life. I just started another longlisted book from the Bailey Prize list, Ruby by Cynthia Bond before short list comes out tomorrow.

I have Helen Simonson's newest book, The Summer Before War on hold at the library. I could have picked it up today, but felt like I needed a reading cleanser before embarking on another English time around WW2. However, I'm very excited to be picking up this book as I loved Major Pettigrew's Last Stand.

Books Entering House:
I'll be picking up the newest Simonson from the library, and while it is not quite time yet, I got an email about the newest season of YA Sync books, beginning the first week in May. Check out the link if you like FREE audiobooks you get to keep.

 Plans for April:
Short list for the Bailey Prize comes out tomorrow
- Eastern Canadian Ringette Championships being held here in Charlottetown. Both of my girls are on PEI Wave teams competing
- Oldest should be getting home from univeristy near the end of April
- getting outside a little for some Vitamin D
- Burger Love on PEI - 73 gourmet hamburgers to try for the month of April in support of PEI Beef growers

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Ten Of The Best Books I've Read Recently

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted at The Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic is ten of the best books I've recently read. One of them I just finished last night! Sometimes a run of good books is really about picking books that you are pretty sure you will like or reliable authors. These books just make you want to read another great book.

Miss Marple: The Complete Short Stories - Agatha Christie
Really, you can't go wrong with Agatha Christie. Last year, I listened to all the Miss Marples on audiobook. My library has since let the registrations lapse on all the Christie books. That seems just wrong. So, to get to the last few Miss Marple mysteries, I had to buy the book. Well worth it.

next to try: Tommy &Tuppence books

Her - Harriet Lane

Great little psycholgical thriller, all the more scary by the ordinariness of the people. 

next to try: something by Patricia Highstreet, maybe Strangers on a Train

The Hero's Walk - Anita Rau Badami

I really liked it as I read it, and then listening to Vinay Virmani defend it on Canada Reads just solidified my love. All the panelists agreed it was the best written book.

next to try:  More Badami!
Tell it to the Trees, Can You Hear the Nightbird Call? 

The Lost Garden - Helen Humphreys

Lovely Humphreys' British homefront book.
next to try: The Lost Dogs by Humphreys

The Door in the River - Inger Ash Wolfe

Fabulous Canadian mystery with a near retirement female Captain, Hazel Micallef

next up: The Night Bell, the most recent in the series

The Frozen Thames - Helen Humphreys

Short, historical vignettes matched with artwork.

next up: Are there more books like this? point me in the direction

Reykjavik Nights - Arnaldur Indridason

First prequel to the Icelandic police detective Erlendur series. I just lent this to a colleague who has a trip booked to Iceland. I'm so jealous!

next up: Oblivion, another prequel set to be released this summer

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks - E Lockhart

I was reading the back battle at The Tournament of Books, and saw that Frankie competed back in 2009. It didn't make it past the first round, but it was a Zombie book that got to come back and compete as a fan favourite. Pretty good showing for a YA book.

next up: How to Be Bad by Lockhart, Myracle,& Mlowski

Ask the Passengers - AS King
Another good YA book. I am back into 2015 for best books

next to read: I Crawl Through It by A.S. King

 The Shepherd, the Angel, and Walter the Miracle Christmas Dog - Dave Barry (audiobook)

A touching, humorous Christmas book. 

next to read: I won't start thinking about this til December

Friday, March 25, 2016

BOOKS: Bitches be Crazy

Publishers do love a trend - it's the next Gone Girl! Gone Girl was very good, as was Gillian Flynn's backlist of Sharp Objects and Dark Places. They weren't like Gone Girl, but they were dark and creepy.

12 Books to Read if You Loved "The Girl on the Train" (That Aren't "Gone Girl")

Of course, as Sheldon Cooper would say - "once I know there is a twist, it has been spoiled already." I'm looking for it, and calling a book The Next Gone Girl, already tells me a whole bunch about the book, and I'm on edge waiting for the twist. That can lead to disappointment if the twist isn't what you expected.

I've read a few books lately that could all fit in that category - the next Gone Girl. I think what that means is a book with an unreliable narrator, could be told from alternating points of views, possibly crazy ladies and plot twists. What is meant is that they are psychological thrillers, or suspense.

The Widow by Fiona Barton, Her by Harriet Lane, and In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware.

Note: I think I will have to give some spoilers in my review of Her, but not the other two, as I compare and contrast the books. So, if you don't want to know details, it may be time to leave. I won't give away actual endings.  But come back when you've read the book and we can dish. Unless you are like Jenny Who Reads the End; I know she's staying.

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

Full of suspense, but uses that style of writing where the narrator asks lots of questions, to further the plot. Will I like this style of writing? Sometimes it can be frustrating, but maybe this author will be okay? When Leonora is invited to a 'hen' party from an old high school, should she go? She hasn't spoken to that friend in years, but maybe she should. Maybe if she convinces her old friend, Nina, who is still in contact Nora will go. They go.
Who are these people? Nora doesn't know any of them.
Half way through, Nora wakes up in the hospital. From there, the story alternates between past and present and some *memory loss. Does Nora even remember anything? She has some thoughts, but is she imagining them? Where is her phone? Why isn't she asking the people that come to see her at the hospital any useful questions!?

I'm picking at this book but it read very quickly and was enjoyable enough even if the title, cover, and sing-song catch line on the cover someone's getting married, someone's getting murdered gave a fairy tale, Once Upon a Time vibe that didn't really match the story. I read it too quickly to notice any incongruencies in what happened, but I'm pretty sure they were there and would be fun to discuss. This was the least complex of the three books, and aspires to be a locked room mystery, but Miss Marple would have been all over the murderer in this one.

(*This device of memory loss was less annoying In a Dark, Dark Wood than in Elizabeth Is Missing, which I read last year. Using Alzheimers as a plot device was a cheap plot way to not let the reader have a clue what was going on. I knew that the main character was being told over and over again where Elizabeth was, but because she didn't remember, we didn't know. Instead of billing Elizabeth as a mystery, it should have been sold as  'What it is like to have Alzheimers.')

The Widow by Fiona Barton, 336 pages

Good while I read it, lots of suspense. I won't, however, remember the story next month. I barely remember it a week later. I did have the thought when I read it that The Widow would pass the Bechdel test as the main character and the reporter that deals with her after her husband dies are both women. But, I guess they talk about him and the previous crime he had been accused of, so maybe it doesn't pass after all. But they were well developed characters with lives of their own and inner thoughts and that made the read feel more layered and complex.

This one has the alternating points of view, not so much twists as gradual reveals.

Her by Harriet Lane, 261 pages

Now here is a book for which the comparison to Gone Girl does harm. Because there is not a big crazy plot twist. In fact, near the end, page 225, Lane has a character say as they talk about a book:
I don't say that I've read it and enjoyed it, though I found the final plot twist unsatisfying, as plot twists often are: nothing like life, which -- it seems to me -- turns less on shocks or theatrics than on the small quiet moments, misunderstandings or disappointments, the things that it's easy to overlook.

If that is not foreshadowing, I don't know what is! In fact, the next line is a response of " 'I don't think I like these characters,' he's saying: an annoying remark , one which I can't be bothered to engage." Double ha! Ms Lane, that is quite a response.

So, there are two women. Nina recognizes Emma on the street, but Emma has no clue who Nina is, (She does eventually have some frissons of recognition.) In some very weird ways, Nina finds ways to insert herself into Emma's life. Emma has young children and is feeling overwhelmed in that way you can when it doesn't feel like your kids will ever not need you. Nina is at a different point in her life, even though they are the same age. Nina's daughter is seventeen, she is a painter, and well off.

Lane keeps the level of suspense simmering throughout. Because we have read Gone Girl, the reader is on edge, waiting. What will be the reveal? How do they know each other? What could be the connection where Nina remembers Emma, but not Emma remembering Nina? The chapters are written alternating, and sometimes they recount the same event almost identically. Maybe one or two little differences. I found this just ramped up the suspense for me, watching for what tiny little differences would appear. When differences did happen, I noticed!


The reviews at Librarything and Goodreads mostly seem disappointed in the ending. That was all? Except for the actual ending, which is very open ended and shocking, if you want it to be. Most reviewers hated it. I thought it was perfect. Because there are sociopaths living around us. And they are crazy but they can manage to appear normal for most of their existence. And I bet we (the non-sociopaths) dismiss and ignore the signs of them because it is beyond our understandings. Because when you realize what Nina did, and why, it is so subtle and over the top at the same time, that we really don't want to think that there are people like that living around us, hidden. In Gone Girl, the action just kept ramping up because Nick and Amy were both crazy, egging each other on. Here, there is no retaliation because no one even knows what is going on, except Nina.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

BOOKS: Helen Humpherys

I went on a little Helen Humphreys spree...

The Lost Garden, 183 pages

Such a wonderful book! A horticulturist from London gets sent to the country to oversee a garden to supply food for England during the war. She is unsure of herself, in charge of young women all with their own struggles during the war. She finds a hidden garden and tries to make sense of the person who planned it. Again, I'm impressed with how much Humphreys can say with so little. Personal struggles within the country struggles. Very touching.

The Evening Chorus, 302 pages

Another WW2 novel and how people try to survive during trying circumstances. James is in a prison camp in Germany; his young wife is left behind on her own in England. James spends his time observing birds and Rose ends up with James' sister living with her.

External conflicts as well as internal conflicts. Life.

The Frozen Thames, 192 pages
Did anyone else ever read London by James Rutherford? It was a behemoth of a book, endeavoring to chronicle the history of London by making stops and telling stories at many points in time for 2000 years. It was excellent.

This is the precis version of London, and it was excellent as well. Through out its history, the River Thames has frozen over about forty times. Not every year, given the temperate climate, but often enough that it was an event. Humphreys takes each time that it has frozen and written a little story. The book itself is small, and has pictures and photographs representing the stories. From the poor to royalty, the frozen river had an impact. Each individual story isn't the story though - it's how Humphreys chronicles the events and records a time in history. With the new building of London Bridge, the Thames will never freeze again.

Overall, Humphreys includes many nature motifs in her novels - the flora in The Lost Garden and fauna in The Evening Chorus and ice in The Frozen Times. If I was her publisher, I'd package up The Lost Garden, The Evening Chorus and Coventry as a set that represents England during WW2.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

TOP TEN TUESDAY:Ten Books I Really Love But Feel Like I Haven't Talked About In A While

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted at The Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic is Books I Really Love But Feel I Haven't Talked About In a While. Awesome topic! I looked through my books at librarything and found some that made me go - oh, that was a great book! It didn't take me very long to decide to make it all Canadian books. I enjoyed even spending the time going back and reading all the reviews I wrote for these books and remembering the love. 

Light Lifting by Alexander MacLeod
Amazing collection of short stories. Giller shortlisted. His father is Alistair MacLeod, whose collection of stories, Lost Salt Gift of Blood almost made the list as well.

The Incident Report by Martha Baille
A series of reports by a librarian, Baille impressed me with how much she said with so little.

Listen to the audio for this one to fully get the Martin Short experience. Even if you only tolerate Short, I think you will find the underlying intelligence and Canadian niceness will change your opinion of him. Classy guy (when he isn't trying to hog the spotlight!)

The Lizard Cage by Karen Connelly
Set in a Burmese prison, this one is so good at showing how attitude and how you treat people is everything.

Unless by Carol Shields
I'm sure I do talk about this one a lot, but the comments on women writers and the place of women in society hasn't really changed in the almost 15 years since Shields wrote her final novel.

Great Canadian novel. Duddy is quite a character and this reminded me that there are a few more Richler novels I'd like to read. 

The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence
If you run across any Margaret Laurence books in second hand stores, don't be put off by the horrendous covers her books seem to have. I read The Fire-Dwellers and the cover did not help me in picking it up, but inside, the stories and characters are so readable and relateable that you will be happy not to judge a book by its cover.

The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway
A look at life in a city under siege. Just because horrendous things are happening, doesn't mean that we hear about it in North America. With all the discussions about refugees, this book would be an eye-opener about how bad life can be even if it doesn't sound bad.

The Wife's Tale by Lori Lansens
Mary Gooch goes on a journey to find her husband, but you'll be surprised at what she finds instead!

(That's my click bait summary!)

Gretzky's Tears by Stephen Brunt
Brunt writes great sports book - I've also read his Bobby Orr book. 

Have you read any of these books?