Tuesday, October 22, 2019

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Books I'd Give Different Titles To

The topic of this week's Top Ten Tuesday is Books I'd Give Different Titles To. For links to other entrants, and for future topics for Top Ten Tuesday, check out That Artsy Reader Girl. I don't have ten books this week, but some categories fill out the list.

Small Island by Andrea Levy
I wrote in my review my problems with the title, but in retrospect, I made the point quite well for the title Small Island. My suggestion was Queenie.

This is a timely topic, as I've just finished several Shari Lapena books, and I was not pleased with two of the titles. I want a title that lets me know what the book is about. A Stranger in the House and An Unwanted Guest just don't give the full effect. I have to be able to remember what the book is about, and neither of these do that.

      A Stranger in the House
There is not an actual stranger in the house, it is more of a metaphor representing do we really know somebody? But with a suspense book, and the very cliche events that happen in this book, a metaphoric title is a little above its station. Or as Ricky Skaggs sings, Don't Get Above Your Raisin. Did anyone else watch the Ken Burns Country Music miniseries on PBS? I quite enjoyed it, and have been listening to a lot of old country music lately. 

An Unwanted Guest
I really liked this Shari Lapena suspense book, but again, the title doesn't quite give the effect. This was a locked room mystery, set in an isolated, storm stayed group of tourists at a cabin. Clearly one of the guests was unwanted, but a title that evoked Agatha Christie's  And Then There Were None was called for here.

Most mystery books, especially Louise Penny, Robert Galbraith, some Agatha Christie have titles that do not help me remember what the book is about at all.

Some of Louise Penny's Inspector Gamauche book titles like The Brutal Telling, A Great Reckoning, Still Life, Kingdom of the Blind, and the latest - A Better Man are so bland, and nondescript. 

I've loved the Cormoran Strike books by Robert Galbraith, but the titles don't help at all - Cuckoo's Calling, Career of Evil, The Silkworm, and Lethal White. I don't even remember the plots for the most part, but then these stories are more about the Cormoran and Robin relationship. 

Another set of books with misleading titles are the Ann Patchett's books Commonwealth, and State of Wonder. Part of the problem is that I mix up Patchett with Barbara Kingsolver, and some of her book titles that I haven't read yet - Small Wonders and The Lacuna. 

Thursday, October 3, 2019

CHALLENGE: Reader's Imbibing Peril 14th Annual

I'm going into this challenge a little backward - I never officially joined, but it is a challenge I've participated in nearly every year. Instead, since I was already reading books themed with 


Dark Fantasy.

I'm going to give a little September update of some of my reading.

These are my favourite types of books so it is no challenge at all to read them. 

The Scholar by Dervla McTiernan, 10h 19min
read by Aoife McMahon

My new favourite police series! So well written, so well plotted, McTiernan is the perfect author to tide you over between waiting for Tana French Dublin Murder Squad books and the next Robert Galbraith Cormoran Strike book. I would include this series along with those other two. 

Set in Galway, Ireland Corman Reilly has been relegated to investigating cold cases when his girlfriend Emma, comes across a dead body hit by a car and he takes charge of the case. When the dead girl is found to have the ID of the heir to a successful research company, the investigation gets trickier. Office politics are also interfering with the investigation as Reilly is relatively new to the squad and isn't sure who is working with or against him. 

I walked longer when I was listening to this book as I didn't want to stop listening. This is my new standard of what makes a great read.

A Stranger in the House by Shari Lapena, 8h 52min
read by Tavia Gilbert

After two great books by Lapena earlier this year, I decided to finish off her backlist with A Stranger in the House, another suspense filled thriller type book. Unfortunately, this one did not work as well for me. There was too much thinking about what someone might think, and not enough just reacting. This would be her follow up book to her successful debut, The Couple Next Door and I'm glad this was the last book of hers that I got around to reading. Her later books were better and I would still read Lapena again.

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
read by Nicola Barber

I'm not finished with this audiobook yet, but it fits perfectly with the RIP theme. Set in a boarding school in east end London, an American student starts the year at the same time that a Jack the Ripper copy cat is recreating the famous murders from 1888. Rory comes from the Louisiana, with all its gothic-ness, and begins to experience some supernatural events, like the guy who is always in the library that no one else has ever noticed. I'm liking this so far, although I'm not sure I'm pleased to see there are three more books in the series. I guess I'll see how much I like it if I want to read more.

(note to self: stop listening to murder mysteries when walking in the evening now that it is dark so much earlier. I've spooked myself a few times now while walking and listening!)

Options for October:

Woman in Black by Susan Hill (already started)
The Suspect by Fiona Barton
The Crossing Place by Elly Griffiths
A Better Man by Louise Penny
Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Book Titles with Numbers In Them

I can't believe I missed this Top Ten Tuesday topic yesterday! I've been missing my blog, as back to school September whacks me in the head again. I had a great summer. I got a Fitbit, and started getting a big walk in everyday. Now that I am back to school, it is still important for me to try and get that walk in. Walking and audiobooks have been a perfect combination for me. So, between trying to exercise, and back to work full-time something has to give. It's been correcting, and my blog! 

I saw some blogs yesterday, with this fun list and I was annoyed I had missed it. But hey, I can still participate and I am going to. Here's my list of  great books I've read with numbers in the title.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Such a great fun story! I listened to the audiobook narrated by Wil Wheaton, and it was one of the first that made me realize that when the book is good, even 14 hours is not a long time.

One Good Turn Kate Atkinson
A Jackson Brodie mystery, which is timely as there is a new book, Big Sky, that I am waiting to get from the library. Excellent series, and if you get a chance to find the BBC mini series, I highly recommend.

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
This was a delightful children's book about a gorilla living in a 'zoo' in a mall. Touching and easy to read, there may have been tears at the end.

Sisters in Two Worlds by Michael Peterman
I loved this nonfiction scrapbook about those famous Canadian settler sisters, Susanna Moodie and Catharine Parr Traill. Lots of background, and primary sources, fans of history should definitely check this out.

Seven Days by Deon Meyer

Thirteen Hours by Deon Meyer
Two fast action mysteries from South Africa make my list because I love Deon Meyer's Bennie Griesel police mysteries and he has two with numbers in the title. Read them in order if you can, but read them.

The Nine Lives of Charlotte Taylor by Sally Armstrong
Hmm, a second Canadian settler book? That seems odd. This one is a fictionalized account (based on true legends) of the author's great grandmother, and how she survived in rural New Brunswick, having tons of kids and several husbands. 

Housekeeping vs the Dirt: Fourteen Months of Massively Witty Adventures in Reading Chronicled by the National Book Critic by Nick Hornby
I was going to avoid books with the number in the subtitle, but when I saw the Nick Hornby book, I remembered how much I enjoyed reading his books of essays about reading, and life. 

Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella
In the early 2000s, I devoured all books Kinsella, both her Shopaholic books and her stand alones, like Twenties Girl. Kinsella does a great job of the chick lit book, but there is always a little more, the writing is a little better. This was a great book about a girl whose dead grandmother comes back to somewhat haunt her. But in a nice way.

4:50 to Paddington by Agatha Christie, a Miss Marple Mystery
How many books did Agatha Christie write? 66 novels? So amazing. I love Poirot when I was younger, loved her short stories, but when I found Miss Marple a few years ago, I was so glad I hadn't read any of her stories before, because I got to enjoy a whole set of mysteries, like 4:50 to Paddington.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

BOOK: Someone We Know by Shari Lapena

Someone We Know by Shari Lapena, 330 pages

Shari Lapena joins Linwood Barclay as a very reliable Canadian suspense author. I listened to Lapena's first book, The Couple Next Door, back in November 2016, and loved the twists and turns of the story. For no good reason, I missed reading her next two books, but I am jumping all over her latest release, Someone We Know.

I may not want to live in the neighbourhood described in this book, but it was a lot of fun to read about it! Everyone has secrets and hidden lives and everyone lies, which makes for many interesting revelations. If people would just tell the truth, it would make life so much easier for the detectives, but so less interesting for the reader.

I don't want to give any plot away, and I find these types of books have plots that blend together somewhat. I will devour the book while I read it, but couldn't tell you who did what, a month after reading the book. I don't take this as a negative; part of the problem is that I read them too fast, trying to find out what happens next!

ETA: I started writing this review right after reading the book, and now, over a month later, I do remember what happened, and who killed the lady, and why. So, these books are memorable!

Because I did enjoy this book, I borrowed one of Lapena's back list titles, and just finished listening to it. An Unwanted Guest was a terrific locked room type of mystery. It very much put me to mind of And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie, and I was quite annoyed that I couldn't remember how that one actually turned out. An Unwanted Guest has a number of couples, and a few singles, arriving at an isolated hotel, just as a blizzard strikes. The power goes out, there is no internet or telephone, and someone turns up dead on Saturday morning. And then another,...

I think what makes these books so readable is there are a number of plausible suspects, and Lapena varies her point of view, so the reader gets inside the heads of some of the characters. I feels like I can predict what happens, but in reality, I have about seven possible outcomes and suspects as the red herrings are flying, and obviously, eventually, I 'know' who did it. I am terrible at predicting the murderer, or I am really good, because I expect it could be anyone, lol.

I now just have A Stranger in the House to read from Lapena, and I expect to get to that sooner rather than later, what with this being the RIP season of fall spooky reading.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

TTT: Books Outside My Comfort Zone

The topic this week for Top Ten Tuesday is Books I've Enjoyed That Are Outside of My Comfort Zone. For more posts and future topics, check out the host, That Artsy Reader Girl

This was fun, looking for books outside my comfort zone. I believe that everyone can find an example of a book they 'don't like' that they will love, if they find the one written by a really good writer. I'm not a huge fan of horror, but I'll read Stephen King. I don't like a lot of cozy mysteries, but Her Royal Spyness is a can't miss series for me. I still haven't found a vampire/paranormal book yet that I can say I love. The Parasol Protectorate's first book, Soulless  is close, and I might try the next one to see it it really does appeal. 

Harry Potter books by JK Rowling
I really am not a fan of magical stuff, and yet, I loved Harry Potter. I've tried other HP type books, and none compel me to read further than the first book. 

The Remains of the Day by Kazou Ishiguro
Introspective, quiet, not much really happening, reading between the lines. Not my usual fare, and yet, I adored The Remains of the Day. 

This Blinding Absence of Light by Tahar Ben Jelloun
Philisophical, introspective, very little plot. Again, I should not have enjoyed this book about a prisoner in a jail cell in the ground in Morocco, but I did. Ultimately, a positive book which it shouldn't seem from the topic.

The Gathering by Anne Enright
Irish stream of consciousness is hit or miss for me, but Anne Enright is right in my head and I have really liked several of her books, especially The Forgotten Waltz, but The Gathering was first. 

DeNiro's Game by Rawi Hage
Toxic male navel gazing during a war? I haven't read many of those type of books; I prefer a more Bridget Jones, or feminist view, and yet I really liked DeNiro's Game, set in Beirut and from a male pov.

The Bone People by Keri Hulme
Magical realism is a big no-no for me, and dreams when exposition could be used are never what I look for. And yet, The Bone People, about three awful people who ultimately were better together than separate, which pivots on Magical Realism worked for me. 

A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty
Fantasy/science fiction is really hit or miss for me, but I loved the Colours of Madeleine series by Jaclyn Moriarty. I can't even describe this trilogy, but it was delightful, and nothing was what it seemed.

Weetzie Bat by Fransesca Lia Block
Very few fairy tales make my 'best of' list but Lia Block has a style of writing that really just works for me. I've read several Block books, but Weetzie Bat is the best.

Redshirts by John Scalzi
Science fiction again, but this time combined with Star Trek? I've watched some of the original TV series, but not really any other Star Trek (or Star Wars for that matter). So imagine my surprise when I read and loved Redshirts. This one even has some time travel as well, another thing I don't really like. You have to read this book! So funny.

Cheryl Strayed: Wild, and Tiny Beautiful Things

Adventure and person learning how to deal with their choices and life, and a self help type book: neither is something I look for. And yet, look at me loving both of Cheryl Strayed's books. Wild didn't make me want to take a 500 mile hike in any way, but I liked reading her walk.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

LIST: Six in Six

The Book Jotter  by way of Nan at Letters from a Hill Farm , has a meme, Six in Six, sort of a half way through the year check in.  It's not a highlight of the Raptors basketball season, or the six players who meant the most to their championship run, which is something you might expect to find here on my blog, being a huge basketball house that I live in. Toronto is known as 'the six' thanks to Drake, who is closely connected to the Toronto Raptors. Anyway, back to books. I haven't repeated any books, but there are a few that could fit in more than one category. 

1. Six new authors to me (and understood to mean, I'd read again)

Normal People - Sally Rooney (ebook)
I liked this unlikely romance between two young people who were continually drawn back to each other.

Inside the O'Briens - Lisa Genova 🎧
Somewhat predictable story, but well-done family drama about a tight-knit Boston family whose patriarch is diagnosed with a terrible, hereditary disease

An American Marriage - Tayari Jones 🎧
A Women's Prize for Fiction short-listed book about a marriage that faces unfortunate circumstances, where no one is right or wrong, so it was sad

The Mars Room - Rachel Kushner  🎧
A view of women in prison, also sad, but kept me interested.

The Library Book - Susan Orlean 🎧
Great non-fiction read for book-lovers and library lovers, with a little bit for true crime fans as this book centers on a 1980s fire at the Los Angeles library

Wild Bird - Wendelin Van Draanen 🎧
YA book about a messed up fourteen year old who gets sent to a wilderness rehab situation done quite well

2. Six authors I have read before 

Daisy Jones & the Six - Taylor Jenkins Reid (Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo)
 Reid is finding a nice niche in writing tabloid-type stories about somewhat famous people. Daisy Jones was a seventies rock icon and the novel is written in interview style. Easy reading.

Nine Perfect Strangers - Liane Moriarty 🎧 (Big Little Lies)
Multiple view points, many characters (nine!) all in an isolated situation, with slowly revealed connections. I love this kind of story.

Kingdom of the Blind - Louise Penny  🎧
Book fourteen in the Gamauche series set in Three Pines

Warlight - Michael Ondaatje  🎧 (The English Patient)
Post WW2 London with some interesting characters, looks at what makes a family. More literature and layered than my usual fare

Who Do You Love - Jennifer Weiner 🎧 (Fly Away Home)
Pretty easy reading, with two (kinda unlikeable) characters who are drawn to each other over the years in different ways. Won't break any stereotypes but still, a great beach read book.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - Annie Barrows, Mary Ann Shaffer🎧
I haven't read this author more than once, I've only read this same book twice, and it was just as charming the second time around. Next up is to watch the movie on Netflix.

3. Six books I have enjoyed the most

Where the Crawdads Sing - Delia Owens 🎧
Lives up to the hype, part nature book, part mystery, part loneliness study, this was a wonderful book.

Milkman - Anna Burns (ebook)
This won't be for everyone, but I loved it. You would know very quickly if you liked the writing style, Irish stream of consciousness, set during the Troubles

Brown Girl Dreaming - Jacqueline Woodson 🎧
Amazing novel in verse memoir. If you get a chance to listen, you should. 

The Swans of Fifth Avenue - Melanie Benjamin 🎧
I've raved about this one already. Fictional account of Truman Capote in New York City and his socialite women friends. There's another book, Swan Song, based on this story. It's ripe for writing about!

A Study in Scarlet Women - Sherry Thomas 🎧
Another play on Sherlock Holmes, but with women. I'm looking forward to reading another book in the series.

My Sister, the Serial Killer - Oyinkan Braithwaite 🎧
Black comedy maybe? It was interesting and won the Tournament of Books this March. It think it was good because it was such a surprise.

4. Six series of books read or started

Al Capone Shines My Shoes - Gennifer Choldenko (book 2 of 4)
Fun, surprisingly deep, middle school book set on Alcatraz during the '50s. 

Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay - Elena Ferrente (book 3 of 4)
Continuing saga of those frenemies in Italy.

The Tainted Coin - Mel Starr (book 5 of 11)
Hugh de Singleton, 14th century surgeon and bailiff who solves murders, great for fans of Brother Cadfael

The Ruin - Devla McTiernan 🎧 (book 1 of 2, so far, it's a new series)
This feels like it could be part of Tana French's Dublin Murder Squad series, but shorter. Great start to a new series and I can't wait for the next one.

Always and Forever, Lara Jean - Jenny Han (book 3 of 3)
Dear Lara Jean and her adorable boyfriend Peter, are dealing with finishing high school and moving on to university. 

A Dublin Student Doctor - Patrick Taylor   🎧 (book 6 of 13)
This was a flashback to Fingal O'Reilly's days in medical school, but so easy to read and so charming. 

5. Six From the Non-Fiction Shelf

Educated - Tara Westover (ebook)
Crazy off the grid family memoir about a daughter who sought education as a way out 

Everything Bad is Good for You: How Today's Popular Culture is Actually Making Us Smarter - Steven Johnson
Social science that says TV and video games are not the worst thing ever! I am becoming quite a fan of this nonfiction author.

The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump - Andrew G McCabe 🎧
You've heard McCabe called down by Trump on CNN, now read his side of the story. (hint, someone is more credible sounding than the other) One cool thing in this book was the reference to a 2006 incident with a terrorist trying to get on a plane with a liquid bomb. It was cool because my sister and mother and I were travelling during this time period and our trip back home with no carry-on luggage was significantly different than our trip over. 

Murder at McDonald's: The  Killers Next Door - Phonse Jessome  (ebook)
Just like we are encouraged to #eatlocal, #readlocal also applies. I loved this true crime read about  horrific murders in nearby Cape Breton that I remember from a distance. 

Force of Nature: The Frontier Genius of Ernest Rutherford - Richard Reeves
Great biography of one half of Bohr-Rutherford fame, for you students who remember your chemistry. 

Bad Blood - John Carryroo 🎧
Fascinating read about the biggest fraud in the bio-tech industry. You will want to learn more about Elizabeth Holmes after this investigation.

6. Six Canadian Authored Books

The Italian Teacher - Tom Rachman  🎧
The vanities of art, and the troubles of family. 

The Golden Tresses of the Dead - Alan Bradley  🎧

The last of the Flavia de Luce mysteries was well done, but I'm ready for the series to end.

The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore - Kim Fu  🎧

Premise was good and it started strong, but I found it fizzled out by the end

Blink & Caution - Tim Wynne-Jones  🎧

I enjoyed this young adult adventure through Toronto about two runaways

French Exit - Patrick deWitt  (ebook)
deWitt's follow-up to The Brothers Sisters, the author shows he can write different styles. This was more of a Oscar Wilde comedy of manners? 

I Am a Truck - Michelle Winters 
This was the winner in this section - cute little book set in rural New Brunswick about a husband who goes missing and his wife picking up the pieces. Quite a bit of French in this but my high school French came through enough.