Wednesday, March 31, 2010

GAME: The Bookword Game (sticky post)

I've had a few bloggers I've met and then followed because of our taste in books. A long time ago, there was a challenge called Something About Me, and I met a few Bookmates that way. Hey, did you see how I did that and dropped in the new bookword for a person with the same taste in books as yourself? That's how easy this Bookword Game is.

So, Bookmate is the word, suggested by Julie, for the person with the same taste in books as you. Thanks Julie! It's quite a perfect word, because after reading some of Suey's lists of her favorite books, I knew that I had found a Bookmate.

On to the next word. One of our 'fans' suggested this one: There is a particular sort of novel of which I always profess to be passionately fond: the sort with one plotline in the olden days with people doing their olden-day thing, and one in the present with eager scholars researching the very olden-day events in the other plotline. There you go - a book with plots in the olden days, and in the present day, with people looking into the olden days time. I'm pretty sure the book I read called The Tenth Gift is this kind of book. Suggestions in the comments please, and a poll next week at Suey's.

(oh, my. I'm sure someone else could have worded that more elegantly, but it just shows that we need a word for this, instead of letting people like me try to describe it)

CHALLENGE: A to Zed, Titles and Authors

Just doing this on my own - bolded have been read, others are ideas.

Titles: 26/26

The Age of Persuasion - Terry O'Reilly & Mike Tennant
Broken For You, Stephanie Kallos
C- The Cruellest Month - Louise Penny
Deloume Road, Matthew Hooton
E- Every Last One - Anna Quindlen
Foreign Affairs, Alison Lurie
Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson
The Help, Kathryn Stockart
Incident Report, Martha Baillie
The Jade Peony, Wayson Choi
K- A Kid for Two Farthings - Wolf Mankowitz
L- La's Orchestra Saves the World, Alexander McCall Smith
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, Helen Simonson
Nellie McClung, Charlotte Gray
O- Out Backward - Ross Raisin
Purple Hibiscus, Chimimanda Ngozi Adichi
Q's Legacy, Helen Hanff
R- The Rehearsal - Eleanor Catton
The Spellman Files, Lisa Lutz
Through Black Spruce, Joseph Boyden
The Unnamed, Joshua Ferris
Vernon God Little, DBC Pierre
We Have Always Lived in the Castle - Shirley Jackson
X- Essex County, Vol 1&2 - Jeff Lemire
Y- Year of the Flood, Margaret Atwood
- Zero - Diane Tullson

Authors: 24/26
A- Allen, Clare- Poppy Shakespeare
B- Bradley, Alan - Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
C- Camilleri, Andrea - Paper Moon
D- Dickner, Nicolas - Nikolski
E- Enright, Elizabeth - Thimble Summer
F- Fitzgerald, Penelope - The Bookshop
G- Greenwood, Kerry - The Green Mill Murder
H- Heyer, Georgette - Why Shoot a Butler?
I- Indridason, Arnaldur - Tainted Blood
J- Johnson, Jane - The Tenth Gift
K- Kimmel, Haven - She Got Up Off the Couch
L- Lahira, Jhumpra - Interpreter of Maladies
M- Miyabe, Miyuke - Crossfire
N- Ness, Patrick - Knife of Never Letting Go
O- Olsen, Karen E - Missing Ink
P- Penny, Louise - Dead Cold
Q- Quarrington, Paul - King Leary
R- Raskin, Ellen - The Westing Game
S- Springer, Nancy - I Am Morgan Lafay
T- Thompson, James - Snow Angels
U- Undset, Sigrid -The Mistress of Hussaby
V- Verghese, Abraham - Cutting For Stone
W- Winspear, Jacqueline - Maisie Dobbs
X - Qiu, Xiaolong - Red Mandarin Dress
Y- Yoshimoto, Banana - Hard Boiled and Hard Luck
Z- Zindel, Paul - The Pigman's Legacy

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

BLOGGING: It's Tuesday, Where are You?

Still taking suggestions for the Bookword this week. Go over to the comments, and maybe one of the suggestions there will trigger an ever better idea.

In reading, I'm in Sicily. Doesn't that sound nice? Inspector Montalbano is investigating a murder and putting up with his superiors and his team. It must be just about time for a nice, Italian meal on the water. (The Paper Moon, Andrea Camilleri)

I am also starting a journey in Ethiopia, as I've just entered the hospital in Addis Ababa. (Cutting for Stone, Abraham Verghese)

Where is reading taking you today?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

BOOK: The Help by Kathryn Stockett

The Help by Kathryn Stockett, 4451 pages

Orange Longlist 2010

This is a book that lived up to its hype, and the hype will likely continue with its inclusion of the recently released Orange long listed books for 2010.

Setting: Mississippi, early 1960s

Published: 2009

Main characters: Miss Skeeter- daughter of a cotton plantation owner, recently graduated from university, didn't nab a husband at university and may be too tall to find one now,
Minnie and Aibilene - two black maids who work for some of Miss Skeeter's Junior League friends

Other Characters I liked: Stuart- the son of the state senator and blind date of Miss Skeeter was a minor character I liked
Miss Celia and her husband Johnnie - a white couple a little on the outside of the cook kids

Point of View: alternating first person between the three main characters

Title Significance: Minnie and Aibilene are 'the help' to the rich, or wanna be rich, white women of Jackson, Mississiippi

Plot: I knew very little about the book before I started, other than it was about race relations. It's a female dominated book, centering on race relations. That's all you really need to know.

Where I Read It: For a good chunk of the book, I read it through the night, in between helping my daughter throw up every 20 to 30 minutes. It was a high interest, easy read, with well developed characters and a plot that flew along, perfect for a late night

Other Books to Read: Mudbound, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Secret Life of Bees

Connection to Another Book I Read Recently: In The Book of Negroes, the main character didn't eat pork since she was a Muslim when she was kidnapped in Africa. When Skeeter is telling a bit about her family's maid, she mentions that her maid seldom ate pork.

Also Reviewed At:
lesley's book nook
arths at reading on a rainy day
devourer of books
caribou's mom
bellezza at dolcebellezza

Friday, March 26, 2010

BOOK: The Green Mill Murder by Kerry Greenwood

The Green Mill Murder by Kerry Greenwood, 173 pages

Historical Mysteries Challenge; Colourful Challenge

Late 1920s, Melbourne. Phryne Fisher, a rich, independent, detective lives the flapper life on her own terms. While attending a dance marathon at a local club, one of the dancers falls down dead, killed. Phyrne takes it upon herself to investigate, as her date is one of the prime suspects, and he goes missing.

Her investigations include having her fly to the outback in her Gypsy Moth, in search of a missing shell-shocked soldier, which also lead to my favorite line in the book - One of the goodies she had brought along was her diaphragm. One never knew. Add in a jazz band, with sultry singer and charismatic banjo player, and the atmosphere is set for a great romp.

I love how Phyrne is her own woman, with a staff who adore her, and are not shocked by any of her adventures. She is assertive, and smart, and ahead of her time. The mysteries aren't terribly convoluted, but the characters are fun, and it's a great read every now and then, especially with the 1920s setting and Australia.

A perfect book for a week with parent-teacher interview sessions, when I still want to read, but my brain in fried.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

CHALLENGE: It's the End of the World Challenge III

Becky is hosting the third edition of this challenge. Check out this post for more details.

Dates: March 17, 2010 - October 31, 2010
Books Required: Four

Books I Might Read Since they intrigue me, and for some, I've read the first in the series:

The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness
The Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
The Dead and the Gone by Susan Beth Pfeiffer
The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer
World War Z by Max Brooks

Books I Did Read:
1. Shades of Grey - Jasper Fforde
2. Generation A - Douglas Coupland
3. The Ask and the Answer - Patrick Ness
4. Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins
5. The Year of the Flood - Margaret Atwood

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

GAME: The Bookword Game (sticky post)

It's time for another poll in The Bookword Game. Did you get your suggestions in?

What should we call a person who has the same taste in books as you do?

Come by my blog and have your say and then next week will have the results posted.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

BLOGGING: It's Tuesday, Where Are You?

didja vote? didja vote? didja vote? Go vote for the Bookword of the week.

In reading, I am in Melbourne, and it's the 1930s, and someone was just murdered at the Green Mill club, while a jazz band was bopping the latest hits, and a dance marathon was going on. Don't worry, Phryne Fisher is on the case. (The Green Mill Murder, Kerry Greenwood)

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

Monday, March 22, 2010

BOOK: Through Black Spruce and The Book of Negroes

Two Canadian Award Winners + a new Canadian book

Through Black Spruce by Joseph Boyden, 360 pages

Book Awards IV: Giller Prize 2008; Colourful Challenge

Will Bird, famed Cree bush pilot, is telling his nieces the story of his life, from his coma. His niece, to help him recover, tells him the story of looking for her missing sister in Montreal and New York City amidst the glamourous, partying modelling world. The story alternates between these two (very nicely too, as I was never confused as to who was talking) and also between the present and the past.

I mostly liked it. I was intrigued by what had happened and the gradual discovery of how Will ended up in the coma. I was hoping for the characters to be happy. The sense of northern Ontario and how life has changed for the natives of that area was very well done. However, it was a touch long and could have been shorter and told the same story. In some sections, the details were too much, but overall, I liked the book, and would read the author's book, Three Day Road, which has some similar characters - Will Bird's father, during World War One.

The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill, 475 pages

Book Awards IV: Commonwealth Writers Best Book 2008; TBR Lite

Fiction that felt a bit like nonfiction, like a Roots type book. Very brutal violence, so much so that I barely was able to continue after page 80, but people promised me it would get better. It took anther hundred pages, but I guess it improved in some ways, but still horrible, horrible events happened to Aminata Diallo, a slave stolen from Africa at the age of 11. She narrates her life from Africa, to America, and then to a version of freedom. I liked the historical story of the 1700s, but I just wasn't up to the brutal violence inflicted on the slaves by the whites, just because.

While this book won Canada Reads last year, I would much prefer The Outlander or Mercy Among the Children, other choices from that competition.

Deloume Road by Matthew Hooton, 310 pages

Canadian Book Challenge; Countdown Challenge: published in 2010

Set on Vancouver Island, following the residents who live on Deloume Road from several points of view and from several time periods. There is the unnamed narrator who hints at events from twenty years before, the residents from the road in the 1980s, and Gerald Deloume the original settler from 1899. The characters are connected because of of there homes, but living separate lives. Mostly it follows four preteen boys, two brothers, their friend, and the poor neglected kid, but also an immigrant butcher, a young Vietnamese widow, and a Vietnam veteran.

There is a sinister overtone in parts, and it is obvious 'something' happened, and the reader is kept in suspense, but the concern is reconciling what the reader imagines, with what actually happens, and hoping that there isn't too much of a gulf between them. Deloume Road was a slice of a simple Canadian life.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

MEME: Crime Fiction Alphabet

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

My entry this week is the mystery, When Will There Be Good News? by Kate Atkinson. 348 pages

Jackson Brodie, previous detective from Case Histories and One Good Turn, is back for Kate Atkinson's newest novel. The title hints at the bad news following some characters that permeates this page turner. There are some desperately sad people in this book, and as several stories overlap and intersect they prove Jackson's line near the end of the book, 'A coincidence is just an explanation waiting to happen.'

This story is more straight forward than One Good Turn. Atkinson takes some time to weave several characters and stories together, and then the twists started that had me rapidly turning the pages to see how it would end. Great characters and plot twists and humor and suspense.

Reggie Chase, sixteen but looks younger, is a nanny for Dr Joanne Hunter's baby. Reggie spends her time avoiding her no good brother, trying to get her high school degree, and being followed by bad luck. I wanted to hug her and cheer her on the whole time.
Dr Hunter's husband is having some business cash flow issues and then Dr Hunter herself goes missing.
Joanne Mason was six years old when her family was butchered by a serial killer, only she and her novelist father survived. The killer, Andrew Decker, is about to be released from prison after thirty years in jail.
Louise Monroe, Detective Chief Inspector in Scotland, has moved on from her attraction to Jackson in the last book, but hasn't stopped thinking about him (who could?) She is still a strong protector of women and the baddest ass cop around.
Jackson Brodie, he used to be a policeman. He always has to look for a missing woman; he can't turn that mystery down.

Once a train wreck is added to this assortment of characters, lives get intertwined and some blood is shed. I liked how so many nursery rhymes were woven into the writing, and pop references are flying everywhere. I'm sure I missed a lot, not being a British native, but I was able to identify many. The ending was a little vague but as hopeful as could be expected for these sad, sad people. Louise and Jackson are terrific characters, full of angst and both are the typical lone-wolf cop with commitment issues. Hopefully, they will be back to another book.

(review originally posted to my blog on October 8, 2008)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

BLOGGING: It's Tuesday, Where Are You?

Tomorrow is the last day to give suggestions for The Bookword Game, over here at Suey's. By late Wednesday, I'll have a poll up to vote on. Head on over and join the fun.

I've seen a few anniversary blog posts lately, like Suey and Florinda's third, both posted today, which reminded me that I guess I missed mine. I started in February 2007, with a Booking Through Thursday post, after some random hello post. Thanks to Jeanne and Paula for the very first comments!

In reading, I am in northern Ontario, near Moose Factory. Will Bird, a Cree bush pilot is in a hospital talking to his nieces, one of whom is missing. (Through Black Spruce, Joseph Boyden)

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

Monday, March 15, 2010

CHALLENGE: Historical Mysteries

Sign up here at Mysteries and My Musings

* In three (3) months read five (5) historical mysteries.

* This reading challenge runs March - June 2010

Suspense, amateur sleuth or police procedures and the entire menagerie under the mystery genre are all available for the challenge.

* Cross overs /overlaps to other challenges are okay and the more you can utilize your TBR stack the better.

Here's a list of books I will pick from:
The Green Mill Murder - Kerry Greenwood
Maisie Dobbs - Jacqueline Winspear
Murder on the Leviathan - Boris Akunin
A Little Yellow Dog - Walter Mosley
Bethlehem Road - Anne Perry
The Tale of Hill Top Farm - Susan Wittig Albert
The Beekeeper's Apprentice - Laurie R King
The Mistress of the Art of Death - Ariana Franklin
A Conspiracy of Papers - David Liss

The Ones I Read:
1. The Green Mill Murder - Kerry Greenwood 03/26
2. Maisie Dobbs - Jacqueline Winspear 04/28
3. Bethlehem Road - Anne Perry 05/09
4. The Tale of Hill Top Farm - Susan Wittig Albert 05/23
5. A Little Yellow Dog - Walter Mosley 06/19

Sunday, March 14, 2010

MEME: Crime Fiction Alphabet

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

Here's my review from December 2008:

Voices by Arnaldur Indridason, 344 pages
translated from the Icelandic by Bernard Scudder

genre challenge: detective

My second read in the Reykjavik Thriller series, but definitely not my last. The Draining Lake is next and I think a new one is being released this spring, Arctic Chill.

Detective Erlunder is back investigating the death of a hotel doorman, killed in his Santa suit. As with all good mystery series, the detectives, including Erlunder, Elinborg, and Sigurdur Oli, are as interesting as the mystery itself. Erlunder is the classic cop - alone, miserable, and fighting crime to avoid fighting his own demons. This case brings up more from his past, and his daughter Eva Lind is back, pushing him, and in his face, trying to make him face the decisions he has made with his family. He seems to be on the verge of a break through. The development of the main characters, plus the bleak Icelandic setting make this a great series to read.
Appropriately, and entirely accidentally, I read this at Christmas time. Set the week before Christmas, Erlunder doesn't want to go home and all his detectives are worrying about getting home in time and getting everything done more than finishing the case. There wasn't as much emphasis on Elinborg or Sigurdur Oli in this book, hopefully there will be more in the next one.

ETC: Sunday Musings

Pi Day nearly always occurs during our March Break, so we don't get to have any type of celebration in physics class. I always do a lab at the first of the year where the students measure the diameter and circumference of an assortment of lids from containers and then graph the circumference versus the diameter. The slope is pi! I love that lab.

The I Like and I Don’t Like Meme

Laura from laurasmusings tagged me for this. The rules are simple: fill in the blanks after each bold word and tag 3 friends. Here we go …

I like books :)
I like chocolate.
I like shoes.
I like scallops and bacon, and scallops wrapped in bacon.
I like playing the Wii.
I like watching TV shows like The Amazing Race, Survivor, and Modern Family.
I like the idea of going to the beach.
I like a glass of red wine with friends.
I like watching curling and basketball.
I like changing into comfortable clothes (fat clothes) when I get home.
I like talking fast.
I like teaching about the wonders of physics.
I love watching my kids grow and learn and become such interesting people.
Today was a day to believe spring is right around the corner.
I hate sand under my fingernails.
I hate nails on a chalkboard.
I hate raisins in muffins, but not in cereal.
I hate cleaning.
I hate a show that is to be continued.
I hate being late.
I hate that I don't get to travel very much.
I hate getting up early in the morning.
I (secretly) like airline food.
I love my family.

And now I will pass this on to three others: tiny librarian at tiny little reading room, chris at bookarama, and kristina at kristina's favorites.

Happy Birthday to Albert Einstein! He was born on Pi Day, a very interesting coincidence, even though he didn't believe in coincidences. How disturbing is this picture? Here's a link to the first book review I posted on this blog, Einstein's Dreams, one of my favorite books of all time. Has anyone else read Einstein's Dreams?

Friday, March 12, 2010

LIST: Fun Friday Facts

Fun things that happened today on Friday:

1. Nikolski won Canada Reads, like I hoped.

2. March Break started at 3:10 pm today, and my student teacher has all the correcting that needs to be done.

3. The sun was shining today and is scheduled to stay shining for the next week.

4. A friend and I picked up Thai food from Leo's Thai Takeout for lunch, a great treat of Basil Chicken and Pad Thai.

5. Johnny Depp was on Spongebob Squarepants tonight.

6. I have a stack of books to read for this week, like La's Orchestra Saves the World, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Through Black Spruce, and Cutting for Stone.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

BOOKS: Foreign Affairs and Vernon God Little

Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre, 276 pages

Book Awards IV: Man Booker 2003

The first half of the book was absurd - a teenage boy stuck in a Texas town with no single person looking out for him who is a survivor and friend of the dead shooter in a high school massacre. It was humorous beneath the horrible stuff. I guess it's a comment on American society and values and satirical and it is pretty scathing. The second half of the book was better for me, as Vernon is put on trial as the scapegoat. The narration voice became more lucid and readable. Still absurd, but more satisfying.

Prize winner? It certainly makes a statement, but it's not your usual Booker, and readers who don't like bad language should be warned.

Foreign Affairs by Alison Lurie, 290 pages

Book Awards IV: Pulitzer Prize 1985

This felt a little dated, but was a pleasant enough read. Two American English professors from the same university, a young male and a middle-aged female, are off on sabbatical to London. The male is coming off a marriage gone bad and not looking forward to England. The unmarried female loves her time and life in London, she rather lives a different life, can be a different person in London. Each of them find an unlikely love and have an affair. That's about it, but it was a quaint look at different lives and what love can do, for better or for worse.

also reviewed:
kim at page after page

BOOK: Red Mandarin Dress by Qiu Xiaolong

Red Mandarin Dress by Qiu Xiaolong, 306 pages

Colourful Challenge; Global Reading Challenge: Asia, China

Detective Chen is a poet policeman, torn between working on a literature paper, and working on the latest serial killer in Shanghai. Women are turning up dead in nothing but a red mandarin dress. Chen isn't officially on the case, but he begins looking into the historical significance of the mandarin dress.

Great little mystery, with some Chinese history, and a look at modern Shanghai. I liked the progression of the story, the details as the mystery emerged, and great inclusion of the Chinese history of poetry, and folklore.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

BLOGGING: It's Tuesday, Where are You?

Still time to vote at Suey's for the latest Bookword. Go over and have your say.

It's time for Canada Reads 2010, and I've actually read all the nominated books this year. I was favoring Good to a Fault originally, but the more I've thought, and then having read this review of Nikolski by August, I am beginning to lean toward this charming little book. I must thank August for that, as the theory he proposed completely changed how I thought of the book, and the issues I had with parts of the book actually improved. Here's a side benefit of Canada Reads - I've found a new blog, with thoughtful, insightful reviews of lots of Canadian literature.

Too many people already love Fall on Your Knees; The Jade Peony was a lovely read that I've already forgotten, and Generation X wasn't my cuppa, but I love Douglas Coupland, and this book evokes such strong emotions, which counts for something. Good to a Fault can be runner-up.

In reading, I am in Africa, mid 1700s. I've just been kidnapped and am about to be sent to North America. (The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill)

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

Monday, March 8, 2010

BOOK: Broken for You by Stephanie Kallos

Broken for You by Stephanie Kallos, 372 pages

TBR Lite; 20-10 Challenge: Charity book

I originally heard of this book at Literary Feline, when she named it one of her favorite books of 2007. I've been planning, and meaning to read this for over 2 years. I wasn't disappointed. It's a wonderfully layered book, with themes of family, and healing, and atonement.

Plot outline:
When Margaret, a reclusive Seattle resident, discovers she has a brain tumor, she takes the opportunity to make some changes. She decides to take boarders into her large mansion, full of stuff. Her first boarder, Wanda, is chasing after her ex-boyfriend. They strike up an unlikely, but lovely friendship. Margaret and Wanda develop and change as their friendship grows, each giving the other what she needs.

The book is filled with many wonderful characters who were a part of, or enter the women's lives. The layers of meaning in the title, broken, culminate with the mosaic works that Wanda makes with smashed pieces of Margaret's china collection, which is beautiful. What else does the book have? Some ghosts, some Holocaust survivor's, some very broken people, some timely coincidences, and people meeting other people who can add to and improve their lives, and then they do.

My only quibble is that I hate reading about dreams in books. The book itself is full of symbols and motifs, why is it necessary to show Margaret's dreams as her illness progresses? Dreams are so random, and you can get any meaning out of them you like. It's not just in books; I never understand why people will tell you all about the dream they had last night. It's either completely random and meaningless, or else they are sharing parts of their psych that I really don't want to see.

Speaking of coincidences and to end on a better note. I was looking in my google reader for some other reviews to link to, and I found a review posted by Dewey of the hidden side of the leaf from November 2007. Her blog isn't available anymore, but her feed is still there and will show up on my occasional searches. It's a bittersweet thing, (Dewey died in 2008) but nice to come across. Like Margaret, Dewey was about building a community around her. Plus, she didn't like the dream sequences either! She had the following quote from the book,

“Look then at the faces and bodies of people you love, the explicit beauty that comes not from smoothness of skin or neutrality of expression, but from the web of experience that has left its mark. Each face, each body is its own living fossilized record. A record of cats, combatants, difficult births; of accidents, cruelties, blessings. Reminders of folly, greed, indiscretion, impatience. A moment of time, of memory, preserved, internalized, and enshrined within and upon the body. You need not be told that these records are what render your beloved beautiful.”

also reviewed at:
carriek at books and movies
small world reads
3m at onemorechapter

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

GAME: The Bookword Game (sticky post)

Last week,in honor of Valentines Day, Suey suggested finding a word that describes a book you totally fall in love with. A book you want to hug to your chest and cherish forever! We had a lot of suggestions and contributions last week, hurray, and after a vote, Julie's suggestion of Book Crush was the winning word. Congratulations, Julie!

On to the next word. There are several memes around about books that you want to read, that you are looking forward to reading. Sometimes when I get one of those books, I almost delay reading it, because I am so looking forward to it, or I worry that I won't like it as much as I hoped I would. So, here's the task. Come up with a word or phrase to describe:

a book that you are anticipating so much, the anticipation has become part of the excitement of the book.

Put on your thinking caps, and I'll take suggestions in the comments for the next week. I'll keep this post at the top of the page so it is easy to find.

PS - I am trying out a new comment system. Any feedback would be appreciated.

BOOK: Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson, 358 pages

being released March 2, 2010 (thanks to Randomhouse Canada for a review copy)
What's in a Name 3: title in the title

I need to quantify for myself what it was about this book that I liked so much, because I really enjoyed this book, and would love to read more like it. I know the British setting is something I like, set in a small village in Sussex. I also liked the characters, warts and all. Characters like the Major, that think their life is one way, and then discover it is another, and have the strength of character to follow through on this change, are fun to read about. And if they make this change because of love, well, I just swoon.

Major Pettigrew is one of those British men who grew up in a different time, of gentile manners, of politeness, of respect for a certain class. And now it's the 21st century and everything has changed on him. He is doing alright with the new age, but his ambitious son seems so selfish and crass, especially in comparison. With the death of his brother, his orderly world is shaken up. While dealing with this tragedy, he meets Mrs Ali, a Pakistani shopkeeper. A lovely little romance ensues, much to the dismay of all involved - family and neighbours. I loved the irony of the fact that Major Pettigrew was born in India, but is the quintessential British man, and Mrs Ali, born and spent her whole life in England, is still the foreigner. The clash of family cultures is a recurring theme in the book.

Major Pettigrew was a wonderful character. In some ways he reminded me of Stevens, the butler in Remains of the Day. He wasn't that extreme, but appearances were important, and manners, and standing in the community. Yet, he was also old enough to begin to be a bit selfish, and do things for himself and to be able to do the right thing, after a lifetime of worrying what other people think. He certainly wasn't perfect, but I was cheering for him from the very beginning, and really enjoyed my time with him and Mrs Ali. Somewhere I read this called a 'wrinkly romance' and I imagine as the baby boomers age, we'll see more romances where the characters are widowed and then find love anew, and deal with their children's reactions.

This book has a lot of stuff going on - some parts are humorous, some farcical, some adventurous, some romance. I could see a criticism being that the book doesn't know what it wants to be, but I liked the variety and change in tone. It was a slice of life, a small story of two very different people looking to be happy.

also reviewed by:
nan at Letters from a Hill Farm

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

BLOGGING: It's Tuesday, Where are You?

Definitely in Olympic withdrawl. The Winter Olympics are so much more managable to watch. I think that is why they are so much fun. Less events, less athletes, less medals. It seemed like you could keep track of all the events, be familiar with all the medalists no matter what your country. It allowed you to watch sports you aren't familiar with (Ski Cross?) or to watch a whole game (curling) without feeling like you are missing something somewhere else. Plus, BC with its Pacific time zone made it possible to watch the end of most events, although in the Atlantic, that meant a number of 1:00AM nights, but it was worth it once every four years to see the medalists. All in all, the Olympics were an amazing experience, and everyone I've talked to loved watching them all the time. And everyone is so proud to be Canadian!

Still taking suggestions until tomorrow for the Bookwords Game, then Suey should have some voting. There are a number of suggestions already, keep 'em coming.

In reading, I am in the lovely English village of Edgecombe St Mary, and Major Pettigrew is somewhat smitten with Mrs Ali, the Pakistani shopkeeper. How far will he go against local and family opinions to find love? I couldn't decide whether to devour or savour this book; I opted for savour I was having such a great time. (Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, by Helen Simonson)

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

Monday, March 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 March 2, 2010, posts with the letter T, for author first or last name or book title are being collected here.

T is for Three Bags Full by Leonie Swann

translated from the German by Anthea Bell

genre: mystery fiction

This wasn't too baaad of a mystery. Such a neat idea, to have the flock of sheep investigate the murder of their shepherd. Lots of fodder for the mind. The story does a good job of getting information that only the sheep can hear to the reader, and we can understand a lot more than the sheep, even Miss Maple, quite possibly the cleverest sheep in Ireland. The cast of sheep, includes the requisite black sheep of the flock, Othello, and you can see that there is lots of playful fun with the narrative. The sheep face some of their fears and learn a lot about the world and humans. Some sections got a little confusing and woolly but they were sheep trying to make sense of things and they often got distracted by the need to graze. I can understand that in many ways.

In some ways, the execution of the story wasn't quite as good as the concept, but it was cute, especially if you like sheep. (I've reprinted the review of this book I posted on my blog over a year ago. Once I reread the review, it was kinda cute.)