Thursday, February 25, 2010

CHALLENGE: The Four Month Challenge, part three

Hosted by Martina, at She Reads Books
From March 1 - June 30th, 2009.
Read books and collect points.
Italics are books I'm considering, and bolded are the ones that have been read.

total to date: 215 pts
5 Point Challenges
Read a book by an author you’ve never read before - Qiu Xiaolong, Red Mandarin Dress
Read a book with a one word title - Zero, Diane Tullson Zero, Diane Tullson
Read a book with an animal name in the title - A Little Yellow Dog, Walter Mosely
Read a book with a proper name in the title - Maisie Dobbs, Jeannette Winterson      Maisie Dobbs, Jacqueline Winspear
Read a fantasy - The Well of Lost Plots

10 Point Challenges
Read an ‘Austenesque’ book - Austenland
Read a book with a two word title - The Help, Kathryn Stockett
Read a book that is part of a series - The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Steig Larsson The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson
Read a book about a real person - Q's Legacy, Helene Hanff
Read a mystery - The Missing InkThe Missing Ink, Karen E. Olson

15 Point Challenges
Read a book written in the 60’s (any century) - We Have Always Lived in the Castle We Have Always Lived in the Castle, Shirley Jackson Shirley Jackson 1962
Read a book with a number in the title - A Kid for Two Farthings, Wolf Mankowitz Kid for Two Farthings, Wolf Mankowitz
Read a book by an author born in March, April, May or June. - The UnnamedJoshua Ferris, Joshua Ferris The Unnamed
Read a book with a three word title - Broken for You, Stephanie Kallos
Read a book by an author with three names - Motorcycles and Sweetgrass, Drew Hayden Taylor Motorcycles & Sweetgrass, Drew Hayden Taylor

20 Point Challenges
Read a book with over 500 pages - Cutting for Stone, Abraham Verghese
Read a book with a four word title - The Book of Negroes, Lawrence Hill
Read a book by two authors - Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List, Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
Read a book written in the 70s (any century) - Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont, Elizabeth Taylor Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont, Elizabeth Taylor
Read a book that has been number one on the NYT Best-sellers list

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

GAME: Bookword Game

Last week, Suey wrote:
This week, in honor of Valentines Day, let's find a word that describes a book you totally fall in love with. A book you want to hug to your chest and cherish forever! I always call this kind of book "one of my all-time favorites" which is obviously kind of a mouthful.

And we got a lot of suggestions and contributions this week! Hurray!
The suggested names are:

Jan - Kindred Spirit Book
Julie - Book Crush
Julie - Heart's Book
Julie - BFF - Book Friend Forever
Arcona - Heart's Delight
Arcona - Close to the Heart Book
Julie - Signature Book
Tinylittlelibrarian - Bookloved (stress on the last syllable, like beloved)
bybee - Visceral Book

Wonderful collection of ideas, how ever will you pick? Come on by my blog and have your say. I'll post the results next week, and keep this post on the top of my blog until the voting ends.
Voting has closed.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

BLOGGING: It's Tuesday, Where are You?

Can't talk long, reading books and watching Olympics.
I confess, I like that CTV has the Olympics - shockingly! but they have different events on TSN, Sportsnet, and CTV. I can always find an event worth watching. When they throw it to a MuchMusic feed, it gets a bit weird because I guess I am old, but other wise, awesome. I am even finally used to Jamie Campbell's monotonous baseball voice for the freestyle skiing events. Those freestyle aeriel's are just insane. Go Canada!

In reading,
I am in Martirio, Texas in the aftermath of a school shooting, but it's an unlikely story and very unusual, in a humorous, tragic kind of way. (Vernon God Little, DBC Pierre)

Where is reading taking you today? Leave a comment, write a post, spread the word.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

BOOK: The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness, 479 pages
Chaos Walking: Book One

young adult challenge

Great book. Lots of adventure, and violence. Cliff-hanger ending. Very much reminded my of Hunger Games, because of the violence, the cliff-hanger, the futuristic view, and the suspense and turn-the-page ability.

Lots more reviews to find:
alison at piling on the books
things mean a lot
Blogging for a Good Book
suey at it's all about books
Stephanie's Confessions of a Book-a-holic
Bart's Bookshelf
Carrie at Books and Movies

MEME: Crime Fiction Alphabet

Mysteries in Paradise hosts a weekly meme on mystery authors and books, highlighting a different letter each week. Beginning February 22, 2010, posts with the letter S, for author first or last name or book title are being collected here.

This week I am highlighting a wonderful series of books which all start with the letter S.

S is for Shakespeare, Arkansas where Lily Bard lives.

Charlaine Harris , of Sookie Stackhouse fame, has a darker, and I think better, series here with Lily Bard. She isn't a typical detective, actually isn't one at all. Lily is a housecleaner, new to Shakespeare, Arkansas, trying to rebuild her life after a horrible and violent crime. There are quirky Southern characters, a broken lead character, a love interest, and great atmosphere.

I liked that the series was finite, and the reader can watch Lily's growth and recovery, slowly, but it eventually gets there. I like that Harris doesn't kill everyone in this small town and lets the series run a natural course.

Shakespeare's Landlord by Charlaine Harris
Shakespeare's Champion by Charlaine Harris
Shakespeare's Christmas by Charlaine Harris
Shakespeare's Trollop - Charlaine Harris
Shakespeare's Counsellor - Charlaine Harris

Friday, February 19, 2010

BOOK: Nikolski by Nicolas Dickner

Nikolski by Nicolas Dickner, 286 pages

What's in a Name 3: place name; Book Awards IV: Governor-General's Prize for English to French translation 2008

reminded me of Yellowknife by Steve Zipp: quirky, wandering characters, humorous, not a plot per se, but an enjoyable story nonetheless.

Nikolski: a community on an Aleutian island, in Alaska, where a particular compass always points.

Three young adults who have lived very similar lives - raised by a single parent in unorthodox manners, all head toward Montreal and live near each other. Each has little in the lines of possessions, but their one valuable or cherished item passes around amongst each other. The three characters are actually quite entwined in too many ways to begin to explain.

Some topics that could be discussed in book groups:
- possessions versus nomads
- the archeology of garbage
- pirates: then and now
- the displacement of aboriginal people
- maps, compasses, charts

And through it all, it's a sea-faring novel, with so many ocean references and water comparisons no one ever sails on water, even the pirate. The first line, "My name is unimportant" could also be a reference to the opening line of Moby Dick. (I didn't recognize that, I read that somewhere that I can't find the reference to now. I didn't figure that out, but it's pretty smart.)

There are lots of levels and symbolism here for those who like that sort of thing. In fact, once I read some comments about the book at CBC Reads Bookclub, I was more impressed with the book. It may be a book that I keep thinking about after the fact, but it didn't touch me as I read it, even though I enjoyed the book.

also reviewed:
august at vestige, a literary blog

Canada Reads Update:
I have managed to read all the books in this year's Canada Reads 2010, the first time I have completed them. I was lucky that this time I had already read Generation X by Douglas Coupland and Fall on Your Knees by Ann Marie MacDonald. Since they were announced, I've read The Jade Peony by Wayson Choi and Good to a Fault by Marina Endicott.

My rankings:
1. Good to a Fault (the one I want to talk about the most, and that I was most involved in the story)
2. Nikolski (quirky and cute, but it didn't lead me to want to talk about it, until I read some other comments; reminded my of Yellowknife)
3. Fall on Your Knees (I read it long ago, and liked it but didn't get the raving and found it too depressing)
4. The Jade Peony (nothing to like or dislike)
5. Generation X (I recognize why it is iconic, and Coupland is one of my favorite authors, but this is my least favorite of his books)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

BOOK: The Tenth Gift by Jane Johnson

The Tenth Gift by Jane Johnson, 394 pages

20-10 challenge: Never heard of the author before (although she is also known as Jude Fisher)

Lots of ways to describe this book - mystery, historical, pirates, suspense, and a bit of romance thrown it. A real-life book lover friend came gushing in to work with this book, and those type of recommendations have to be taken seriously.

Two parallel stories, surrounding an embroidery book. In 17th century England, Cat, a young woman dissatisfied with her future of marriage, gets more than she bargained for when pirates from Morocco attack her Cornwall village. Four hundred years later, Julie discovers the same book with Cat's notes in it in the midst of a painful breakup. Julie tries to unravel the mystery of the book, as their lives l
follow some unusual parallels.

I eventually understood the significance of the title, but I thought it took too long! I think there must be a better title for this book, but I'm not sure what it would be. There were small incredulous events, but I let go and just enjoyed the great combination of mystery, and suspense and storytelling. I enjoyed my time in Cornwall, and especially Morocco, and the connection of the embroidery was very nice. Nothing too heavy or heaving, with strong women leads from both centuries.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

BLOGGING: It's Tuesday, Where Are You?

We are still taking suggestions for the latest Bookword Game, head on over to Suey's and contribute.

We 'celebrated' Islander Day, a new statutory holiday to break up the winter months. Great idea, and we vegged out pretty good. Watched some Olympics, played some Super Mario Bros., the new game for the Wii that I finally found. Back in the day, the 80s, I wrapped the old Mario Bros. and Mario Brothers 3 on NES, and once again, I am developing Nintendo Thumb. I baked some Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars, and I did some reading. Mondays should be holidays more often.

In reading, I am on Vancouver Island, specifically Deloume Road, hanging out with the people who live there. (Deloume Road, Matthew Hooton)

Where is reading taking you today? Leave a comment, write a post, spread the word.

Monday, February 15, 2010

MEME: Crime Fiction Alphabet

Mysteries in Paradise hosts a weekly meme on mystery authors and books, highlighting a different letter each week. Beginning February 15, 2010, posts with the letter R, for author first or last name or book title are being collected

This week, R is for Rounding the Mark by Andrea Camilleri.

Published in Italian in 2003, Rounding the Mark was translated into English by Stephen Sartarelli in 2006. By the seventh book in the series, Detective Salvo Montalbano is getting tired of dealing with bureaucracy and is contemplating retirement. Out for a relaxing swim, he bumps into a corpse. Another case involving traffickers of children might be connected, and Montalbano is drawn into the case.

I liked how Montalbano, who seems old-fashioned and not with the modern times, is dealing with a very modern issue in Italy. The level of criminals he is dealing with here is very high-tech. And as with all the Montalbano books, Salvo is rude and crude and eats so very well.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

BOOK: She Got Up Off the Couch by Haven Kimmel

She Got Up Off the Couch by Haven Kimmel, 304 pages
and Other Heroic Acts from Mooreland, Indiana

TBR Lite; Women Unbound

If you haven't read Kimmel's first memoir, A Girl Named Zippy: Growing Up Small in Mooreland, Indiana, you should go get that book and read it. Let me share a snippet of She Got Up's introduction, and if you find this humorous at all, you will like these books.

Kimmel is describing the publishing of her first book.

I turned around one day and the book was taken on by a publisher and then it had a cover - and I am talking about the most unfortunate cover imaginable: me as a six-month-old baby, wearing a dress my mother made. I was a tragic little monkey child: bald, with the kind of ears that look fine on woodland creatures but in human culture tend to be corrected surgically. I was holding Mom's watch, which was dripping with drool, as I was teething. I'm sorry, I need to say this all again. On the cover of the book was my cross-eyed monkey baby picture, holding a drool-drenched watch. ... thus did A Girl Named Zippy skitter out into the world, and thus was my self-respect laid to rest.

I just love Kimmel's voice. She narrates the story of her life as she saw it as a child, and she was a bit of an unusual child. She has a way of describing feelings and events as a child sees and feels them, and putting into words these huge, dramatic thoughts. Zippy hated shoes, but is forced to wear a pair of sandals for a family event. The sandals had a flower on them, which made them ten times worse, so she tries to destroy them. Suddenly, the shoes become a part of her feet and then she doesn't mind them, but she can't admit that, barely even to herself. She's not supposed to like shoes!

This sequel is a bit darker, as Zippy is growing up and becoming more aware of her surroundings and the lives of her family members, beyond how it affects her.

The 'she' referred to in the title is her mother, who spends the first book on the couch, reading. In the second book, coinciding with the second wave of feminism in the early 70s, her mother got up, learned to drive a car, and attended university.

Zippy says to her Mom - "Actually, my only plan was to sit and chat with you."
"Do you remember," Mom asked, turning a page of the paper she was grading, "what I used to say before napping?"
Of course I did, it was [rule] number seven. " 'I'll be asleep if you need me, so try not to need me.' "

I absolutely have not done this book credit in this review for the enjoyment I received. I guffawed aloud several times, and one time I tried to read a funny line to my daughter, and I couldn't get it out, I started laughing so hard.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

BOOK: Nellie McClung by Charlotte Gray

Nellie McClung by Charlotte Gray, 204 pages

Women Unbound; Canadian authors

If you are Canadian, you might remember Nellie McClung from her Canadian Heritage Minute, "Take it from me, nice women, don't want the vote" as she mocked the Manitoban premier. She was also a member of the Famous Five, women, led by Emily Murphy who challenged the British North American act that stated women were not persons under the law, and could not sit in the Senate. Where were we Canadians be without our history lessons from Canadian Heritage Minutes?

Gray has written an insightful, readable biography, as is her specialty (Sisters in the Wilderness and Reluctant Genius: The Passions and Inventions of Alexander Graham Bell.) With little primary material to work with, (Nellie's daughter burned all her journals and mementos after her mother died) she brought Nellie McClung to life. Nellie was vivacious and quick witted, and an excellent orator. She was a real leader in the West, and took on any injustice she felt was important, a leader in the first wave of feminism. She was not perfect, but admitted her mistakes, and valued her family and home. That's what she was fighting for: for women and their families to have the best life they could. Gray shows the life that allowed and led Nellie to be the leader she was, including her loving husband. She was an amazing woman, and I'm pleased that I've read more about her.

I picked this for the Women Unbound Challenge, check out the blog here. Reading the book lists of other participants, I was feeling like I was picking easier books, so I am pleased to be able to add this leader in the feminist movement in Canada to my list. Nellie got the vote for Manitoban woman in 1916, and then went on speaking tours in the US before they got the national vote in 1920. She was also an early advocate for the ordination of women in the United Church.

I just happened to pick up this book at the library, and was pleased to see that it is a part of a series called Extraordinary Canadians, edited by John Ralston Saul and published by Penguin. Famous Canadian authors write biographies about other famous Canadians. Here's a partial list of the editions that I am interested in, either for the subject, or the author:
  • Lord Beaverbrook, David Adams Richards
  • Emily Carr, Lewis DeSoto
  • Tommy Douglas, Vincent Lam (Keifer Sutherland's grandfather!)
  • LM Montgomery, Jane Urquhart
  • Lester B Pearson, Andrew Cohen
  • Marshall McLuhan, Douglas Coupland
  • Pierre Elliot Trudeau, Nino Ricci
  • and even more

BLOGGING: It's Tuesday, Where are You?

There is voting at Suey's this week. Head on over and tick the box - a book that makes you want to travel to that location? It's really the perfect type of book for this meme.

I am in Mooreland, Indianna, finding out what happened to Zippy later, when her mother got up. (She Got Up Off the Couch, by Haven Kimmel)

Where is reading taking you today? Leave a comment, write a post, spread the word.

Monday, February 8, 2010

BOOK: Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri, 197 pages

Book Awards IV: Pen/Hemingway 1999 & Pulitzer 2000

Lovely collection of short stories, mostly about immigrant Indians, and fitting in. I'm a fan of short stories, and I liked these, but I wouldn't have finished this collection thinking it was a Pulitzer winner. That is because I need a bit more over all story or plot to a book to make me say wow, like a Stephen King collection, or there can be character development, like in Olive Kitteridge, but I'd like to be more attached to the characters.

Having said that, Lahiri manages to write wonderful short stories, with characters that are fully fleshed out in very short amounts of time. I've wondered about the title, and it is named for the character who is multilingual, and translates for a doctor when patients from small areas of India come to his office. That story was an interesting take on what makes something romantic, and it usually is just what you don't have. The unusual is enticing to what might be missing in your own life.

A solid 4 out of 5 stars from me for Lahiri's celebrated collection. I tried to pick up the book and read one story a day, so each could be enjoyed on its own.

other reviews by:
musing of a bookish kitty (one story reviewed)
joann at lakeside musings
laura at musings
trish at heylady!whatcha reading

MEME: Crime Fiction Alphabet

Mysteries in Paradise hosts a weekly meme on mystery authors and books, highlighting a different letter each week. Beginning February 8, 2010, posts with the letter Q, for author first or last name or book title are being collected here.

This week, Q is for Kwei Quartey, author of Wife of the Gods.

From Kwei Quartey's website:

Dr. Kwei Quartey was born in Ghana and raised by an African American mother and a Ghanaian father, both of whom were university lecturers. Even though his professional writing career began after he became a physician, his desire to be a writer started at a very early age.

Kwei Quartey now lives in Pasadena, California. He writes early in the morning before setting out to work at HealthCare Partners, where he runs a wound care clinic and is the lead physician at an urgent care center.

Here's my review of Wife of the Gods, one of my favorite books from 2009. Set in Ghana, it takes the reader to the conflict between traditions and modern conveniences, as well as introducing a new detective, Darko Dawson.

And I see from Quartey's site that another book with Detective Darko Dawson is planned for 2011. Wee! I'll be looking forward to Children of the Street.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

BOOK: Dead Cold by Louise Penny

Dead Cold by Louise Penny,375 pages (also known as A Fatal Grace)

Book Awards IV: Agatha Award 2007; Global Reading Challenge: North American mystery

Continuing Mystery Series Review

Give a brief summary of the book:
Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is called back to investigate another murder in Three Pines, a village in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, during another Christmas season.

Getting to know the recurring characters; the interaction between Gamache and his investigative team as he mentors and teaches; the Canadian setting, which included lots of snow and curling this time; the village of Three Pines

Gamache is pretty perfect. That's all I've got for this category.

Additional Thoughts on the Series:
There is a much bigger story going on in the background with Gamache and his superiors that left me hanging at the end of this book. The next in the series is called The Cruelest Month, also the Agatha Award winner in 2008. The mystery itself is really a small part of the book, as the relationships between Gamache and the villagers, and within the Surete, is the real story.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

BOOK: Why Shoot a Butler? by Georgette Heyer

Why Shoot a Butler? by Georgette Heyer, 329 pages

New Author Challenge; twenty-ten challenge: before you were born

Great classic mystery, set in the 1930s England, where ironically, the butler is killed first. Heyer, well known for her histories and romances, has a little series of mysteries she's written as well as well. Her mysteries have been rereleased with beautiful covers that really stand out on the murder book shelves with their pretty pastels.

Frank Amberley is the amateur sleuth who happens upon a murder. The reader isn't led in on much of Frank's thoughts or actions, but it is possible to make a few guesses. Red herrings, bumbling police, and a few more murders move the story along nicely, and the reader gets the classic wrap-up where Frank explains all the events to everyone involved. I really liked Frank and his dry wit as he observes and deals with everyone around him, whom he keeps in the dark. I would have liked another book with him, but this is a stand-alone mystery. Heyer has another series with another detective that I'll have to look into.

also reviewed by:
framed and booked
joanne at the book zombie
marg at readingadventures

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

BLOGGING: It's Tuesday, Where are You?

It's Groundhog Day! Six more weeks of winter would be great news around here, so I don't care what the ground hog does.

Still taking suggestions for The Bookword Game this week, head on over here to add your word. Suey will have a poll up after suggestions close on Wednesday.

In reading I am in England, circa 1930, and the butler has been shot! How ironic! It's my first read of a Georgette Heyer, a British house mystery, based on Agatha Christie type mysteries. (Why Shoot a Butler? by Georgette Heyer)

Where is reading taking you today? Leave a comment, write a post, spread the word.

Monday, February 1, 2010

MEME: Crime Fiction Alphabet

Mysteries in Paradise hosts a weekly meme on mystery authors and books, highlighting a different letter each week. Beginning February 1, 2010, posts with the letter P, for author first or last name or book title are being collected here.

Lots of options for the letter P. I thought I would use Anne Perry, but then I remembered how I found Perry in the first place: beside Ellis Peters on the library shelf as I hunted for some Brother Cadfael mysteries. So this week, P is for Ellis Peters.

Ellis Peters is the pseudonym for Edith Mary Pargeter, the British author who died in 1995. Her most famous books are the Brother Cadfael mysteries set in Shrewsbury, near Wales in the 12th century. Cadfael was on the crusades before he joined the Benedictine monastery, so he is a man of the world, with more experience than your average monk. A mixture of murder, politics - within and without the monastery, history, and great characters make this a wonderful, gentle mystery series.

In 1993 Peters won the Cartier Diamond Dagger, an annual award given by the Crime Writers' Association of Great Britain to authors who have made an outstanding lifetime's contribution to the field of crime and mystery writing. (from wikipedia) I am mostly focusing on her Cadfael books, but Peters wrote over 50 books, mostly historical fictions.

The setting and fame of the Cadfael books have made Shrewsbury a local tourist spot, with mystery fans coming to see the church and the castle. The BBC has made adaptations of the books into radio and television series, which I haven't seen any of yet. There are many books in the series, which, personally, is something I love to find in a new mystery series - you know there will be another book at the library to take out for quite a while.
list of books copied from wikipedia:
A Morbid Taste for Bones ·
One Corpse Too Many
Monk's Hood
Saint Peter's Fair
The Leper of Saint Giles ·
The Virgin in the Ice ·
The Sanctuary Sparrow
The Devil's Novice
Dead Man's Ransom ·
The Pilgrim of Hate
An Excellent Mystery
The Raven in the Foregate
The Rose Rent ·
The Hermit of Eyton Forrest
The Confession of Brother Haluin
The Heretic's Apprentice
The Potters Field
The Summer of the Danes
The Holy Thief
Brother Cadfael's Penance

I've still remembered a line from one of the books from many years ago when I read these:
On making a decision, Cadfael says "Ten of one, half a score of another." Well done, Ellis Peters.