Saturday, November 24, 2012

BOOK: 1222 by Anne Holt

1222: a Hanne Wilhelmsen novel by Anne Holt, 313 pages

A closed room mystery in the spirit of Murder on the Orient Express and And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. Translated from the Norwegian, this is the eighth book in the Hanne Wilhelmsen series, but the first available in English. Hanne is not very likable in this book, and maybe after following her life up to this point, the reader would be more empathetic to her situation. I mean, she is really cranky, and only very reluctantly gets involved in solving the murder.

The storm that strands the passengers from a train is described so well, and is so claustrophobic, that this reader felt like she was in the middle of a huge blizzard. Norway does winter very dramatically, and Holt sets the mood well. There was a lot going on and Holt kept the characters moving around, and well defined. There were also some very interesting characters introduced, and I would read another book to see how Hanne relates to them and if she stays connected.

It took me a long time to get through this book, which I never like, but in retrospect, there was a lot to like: unique characters, dramatic setting, multi-layered main character dealing with a tough life and a murder mystery where people kept dropping (there was more than one murder).

Saturday, November 17, 2012

CHALLENGE: 2012 Christmas Spirit Challenge

From the host blog The True Book Addict - head on over to sign up.

  • challenge will run from Monday, November 19, 2012 through Sunday, January 6, 2013 (Twelfth Night or Epiphany). 
  • Levels
  • Candy Cane:  read 1 book 
  • Mistletoe:  read 2-4 books 
  • Christmas Tree:  read 5 or 6 books (this is the fanatic level...LOL!) 
  •  visit this POST for a list of new Christmas books for 2012.
  • Additional levels: 
  • Fa La La La Films:  watch a bunch or a few Christmas's up to you! 
  • Visions of Sugar Plums: read books with your children this season and share what you read *the additional levels are optional, you still must complete one of the main reading levels above   
I've got An Irish Country Christmas here just waiting to be read

And from my post last year, I found this:
Books for Next Year: (thanks for all the reviews, folks)
1. Miracle and Other Christmas Stories by Connie Willis
2. The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore
3. An Idiot Girl's Christmas by Laurie Notaro
4. Wishin’ and Hopin’: A Christmas Story by Wally Lamb
5. Anne Perry's Christmas series
6. Immovable Feast: A Paris Christmas

What I read this year: 
1. Immovable Feast: A Paris Christmas - John Baxter
2. Wishin’ and Hopin’: A Christmas Story by Wally Lamb
3. Miracle and Other Christmas Stories by Connie Willis
4. I Am Half-Sick of Shadows - Alan Bradley

Friday, November 16, 2012

BOOK: Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach, (8 hours)

RIP 7; Science Book Challenge

Everything you ever wanted to know about bodies after they die will be found in here. If there is more, I don't think I want to read about it. Roach is extremely curious, and she ventured into many areas in her search for the story of what can happen to a body after it becomes a cadaver. From medically donated bodies for anatomy classes, to the FBI Body Farm in Virginia which studies decomposition, to research that needs particular body parts and the ethics involved, to potential funeral rites (casket, cremation, compost!), Roach goes there. She even goes to China in search of brothers who are possibly eating bodies? Throughout, she keeps a light and humorous tone which doesn't seem possible, but which adds to the charm of the book, delightfully read by Shelly Frasier.
I'm looking forward to more Mary Roach (Bonk, Packing for Mars, Spook) and her humorous take on science.

Every year I attempt this challenge, as I do like to read nonfiction science books.

1. Newton by James Gleick
2. Stiff by Mary Roach

Here's the link to this year's project: Science Book Challenge

Saturday, November 10, 2012

BOOKS: October Reads

Since I don't seem to be able to get many book reviews written, I'm going to try to do a montly summary of my reading. I still like to share what I've read, and would love to hear your comments on any of these books. Did you love it? Hate it? What are you reading that you'd recommend? What's new with you?


93. The Calling - Inger Ash Wolfe
reviewed here
Start to a good Canadian series, written by Michael Redhill. Book number 3 has been released recently.

 94. The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley, 343 pages

Canadian Book Challenge; RIP 7

My book club read the first book in the series, so I took the opportunity to read the second book about Flavia de Luce. I forgot how much I enjoyed The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, and now really want to get caught up in the series. They read fast and fun, with a precocious narrator that some readers find annoying, but I adore. She's into chemistry and poison, and the book is set in a 1950s post-war British village. Book club loved the book; one of the ladies was already half way through this one by the time we met. I definitely need more Flavia.

95. Bossypants - Tina Fey (audiobook)
reviewed here 
Tina Fey is fabulous. the end.

96.  The Black Echo by Michael Connelly, 481 pages

First Harry Bosch novel. Published in early 1990s about a Vietnam vet struggling in Los Angeles. Read slower than I would have expected for a mystery/thriller, but still enjoyable. Liked Harry and some of his close friends. Internal Affairs is out to get him and looks like an ongoing plot.
Picked up the next two at the library sale shelf for 25 cents each.

97.  The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey, 208 pages

Librarything recommended book as a quick read. It was delightful, and peaceful, and charming. The author was struggling with a viral infection that left her immobile and exhausted. She took to watching a snail who arrived in a wild violet dish from a friend. There is much about the science of snails, but it is also a philosophical look at life. Wonderful find.

98. Stiff: the curious lives of human cadavers - Mary Roach (audiobook)
How can something be so gross and so funny at the same time? Possibly more to come on this book.

99. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce, 320 pages 
Man Booker Prize longlist 2012

I won this book from lori at she treads softly after she had a giveaway, and she loved the book. I liked it a lot as well, but found the tone a bit off. It was a little light and humorous, but also there was a really dark overtone that kept me worried. Finding a way to have an existential crisis for a boring plain man as he decides to walk across England with no planning (or hiking shoes or money) was a tricky tone to maintain, especially with the info that gets revealed as he walked.

Closest book that one reminded me of was Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, but this one didn't completely charm me in the same way; but I can see how on a different day or at a differnt time, this could be a favorite book.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

BOOK: Audiobooks by funny ladies

Bossypants by Tina Fey (5 h, 32 min), read by Tina Fey

If some books are truly meant for audiobook as read by author, then Bossypants is Exhibit 1.

Tina Fey is a very funny comedian, and her timing and dry wit elevate this collection of essays to hilarious. Really, there isn't much more I can say here - she's hilarious, her take on life is self-deprecating but also woman-empowering, and I'd listen to her read the direction to bake a cake.

also reviewed: books in the city; anastasia at birdbrain(ed) book blog; trish at love, laughter and a touch of insanity; christina at christina reads; chris at chrisbookarama; literary feline at musings of a bookish kitty; raych at books i done read; lindsay at reeder reads; plus more I'm sure

If You Asked Me (And of Course You Won't) by Betty White (2h 17 min), read by Betty White

This was the first audiobookI listened to, just to get me started. I was limited by what books my library had available, and which ones were in MP3 format for my iPhone. The book was read by Betty White, and was composed of small essays on whatever topics interested her. She's 92, she gets to do what she wants! It was cute, and amusing, and gave some insight into the life of a star. Because Betty White is a big star!

Most of the essays would have been written after her most recent resurgence - the Super Bowl Mars bar commercial, hosting SNL after the Facebook campaign, and her Emmy-winning role on Hot in Cleveland, and she mentions a lot of names but doesn't dish at all. She is very complimentary, but I think that also goes with her philosophy of life. She seems to genuinely enjoy what she does, and is very appreciative of her good fortune in life.