Tuesday, June 18, 2019

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Most Anticipated Releases of the Second Half of 2019



The topic this week for Top Ten Tuesday is the Most Anticipated Releases of the Second Half of 2019. This was harder than I would have liked now that FictFact.com has shut down. It was a valuable site for tracking series, and since it was connected to amazon, dates of new releases and next books was easily found. Mostly what I look forward to are the next books in my favourite series or books from favourite authors.

Check out That Artsy Reader Girl for other blog posts on this topic, or for future topics.




Big Sky by Kate Atkinson June 25
Ooh, a new Jackson Brodie


Love and Death Among the Cheetahs by Rhys Bowen Aug 6
the latest with Lady Georgiana, 34th in line for the throne in 1930s England


This Little Light by Lori Lansens Aug 13
Lansens is a great Canadian writer of books like The Girls, The Wife's Tale, and Rush Home Road


A Better Man by Louise Penny Aug 27
a new Inspector Gamauche book, and life from Three Pines


Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell  Sept 10
Gladwell writes such entertaining social science books, with anecdotes to support his theory. 



A Single Thread by Tracy Chevalier Sept 17
A 1930s, between the war book from England, by Chevalier? ticking all my boxes



To the Land of Long Lost Friends by Alexander McCall Smith Oct 22 2019
Number One Ladies Detective Agency in lovely Botswana, book #20

and finally, while not a book, I am most looking forward to Toy Story 4 at the theatre, starting June 21st







Tuesday, June 11, 2019

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Books From My Favorite Genre


The topic last week is Books From My Favourite Genre. I forgot to write last week, but I have lots of police procedurals to share so will do this list this week instead. I like police procedurals from different time periods, and different countries. I much prefer police detectives to cozy mysteries

Check out That Artsy Reader Girl for other blog posts on this topic, or for future topics.



Thirteen Hours by Deon Meyer
Bennie Griessle is South African police officer and Thirteen Hours was the first of his books that I read. And I loved it. I've gone back and now have read all the Bennie books that Meyer has written. Brilliant reads.


Truth by Peter Temple
I read Truth probably ten years ago and I really liked it. It was dark and noir, and once I got used to the slang/Australian accent, it was great. 


The Last Policeman by Ben H Winters
A future world with a meteor about to hit the Earth, and one poor cop trying to keep working and keep order. This trilogy was a great blend of police and apocalyptic. 


The Trespasser by Tana French
I can't wait for another one in this series, the Dublin Murder Squad. Each book is a stand alone and follows a different detective. Sometimes I feel like French could use an editor, but not enough to stop reading, and her books are getting tighter and tighter.


Birdman by Mo Hayder
Jack Caffrey is a London police officer but is dealing with lots of internal struggles. This series pushed the limit of my goriness factor, much like Criminal Minds the TV show did.


The Dry by Jane Harper
Australia the setting is just as great as the detective, Aaron Falk. Only two books so far, but I'm waiting for some more.



The Silence of the Grave by Arnaldur Indridason
Iceland is the setting for many murders and disappearances for the police to investigate and Erlendur is just the cranky detective to do it. This series was a wonderful chance to learn about a different country, and now I would like to visit Iceland.



A Great Deliverance by Elizabeth George
Twenty years ago, Inspector Thomas Lynley and Detective Barbara Havers were my go to police detectives. These are long books, heavy vocabulary, but really well plotted and layered characters as well as British class issues. I read about 12 in the series, mostly before blogging, and they would take me nearly a month to read. I have great memories of these books. 


The Cater Street Hangman by Anne Perry
Another British series but Victorian setting and much lighter and easier to read. The kind of series it was easy to grab one from the library and enjoy. The order didn't matter too much, but there are character developments along the way. More with the British class systems and police officer Thomas Pitt is considered pretty lowly, and much of his advantage is his high born wife Charlotte. Full of the Victorian manners and rules.


Cop Hater by Ed McBain
This is probably the best police series ever written, with apologies to the Martin Beck Swedish series which is considered the original, and I forgot to feature today. There are over 50 books in this series, with many different detectives and New York City is a major piece of the books. I don't even know how many or which books I read, because I didn't keep a record of all that I read way back when I read these. 
An interesting feature of this series is that it starts in the 1960s and then everyone continues to grow and age. Maybe a combination of Barney Miller and Hill Street Blues? 

Monday, June 10, 2019

MONDAY: What Are You Reading?



It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? a place to meet up and share what you have been, and are about to be reading over the week and is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date

In print:

Remember when I read, and loved The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson? I finally got around to reading another book by him, and he has not disappointed. Slightly old, 2005, but still fascinating. His premise is that modern popular culture, video games and television and internet, are actually making us smarter, not dumbing us down as is the common belief. He's making his case for me! This book reminds me of a Malcolm Gladwell type of book, with lots of specific examples to support his theory. 

next in print: probably Ordinary People by Diana Evans, a short listed Women's Prize for Fiction title

In Audio:



I finally read this classic Pulitzer Prize winning book, The Good Earth. It was good, but a little frustrating as the main character let his money go to his head, and life was pretty terrible in China in the early 1900s. However, it was an interesting look at a different life. 

next in audio: Meet the Sky by McCall Hoyle, a YA Sync summer book

in Ebook: 

I've been enjoying this Swedish nonfiction true crime book. 

next in ebook: I'm not sure yet. I've had to stop getting Kindle deal updates, as there are now quite a few ebooks waiting for me. I have lots of options.

I'm writing this post as I sit and watch the Raptors, me along with most of Canada. When the game is in Toronto, I can mostly listen, as cheering is always good news. For our basketball house, this has been such an exciting NBA playoffs! Go Raptors! Fear the North!

Monday, May 6, 2019

MONDAY: What are You Reading/


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? a place to meet up and share what you have been, and are about to be reading over the week and is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date

In Print:



The Beggar's Opera by Peggy Blair
First in a mystery series by a Canadian writer, Inspector Ramirez of Cuba is investigating a murder of a child. I'm not far into it, and there is also a Canadian police officer who is right now a suspect. Starting off good so far. 

Next up in print will be Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han, last in the charming trilogy.

In Audio: 


Blink & Caution by Tim Wynne Jones

I just finished the first of my Sync YA audiobook for 2019, and it was very good. Written by Canadian Wynne-Jones, I loved the Toronto setting and back and forth between the two young homeless teens. Once they got together, the road trip got very suspenseful. 

Next up on audio will be another Sync YA, either Othello performed by a full cast, or Swing by Kwame Alexander.


In ebook:


Educated by Tara Westover
I've just started this, maybe about 20% into it, but it is living up to all the hype. The writing is excellent and the story is unfortunate. I know that parents have the right to raise their kids the way they want, but this does not seem reasonable. I love when a book lives up to the hype.

Next up in ebook will be Go by Kazuki Kaneshiro, an ebook free from Amazon Kindle World Crossing. There were 9 free ebooks from around the world for World Book Day, and I greedily downloaded all of them. 





Sunday, May 5, 2019

BOOKS: Force of Nature and Electric Universe

Me and my science books! 


Force of Nature: The Frontier Genius of Ernest Rutherford - Richard Reeves, 208 pages

I was a chemistry major in university and now I teach physics, so I had heard of Rutherford, in terms of the Bohr-Rutherford model of the atom. But I didn't realize how big an influence Ernest Rutherford had in the first half of the 20th century science. It was Rutherford the experimental physicist and Einstein the theoretical physicist who dominated all the research being done and were considered the yin and yang of physics.

Rutherford was a loud guy from New Zealand who blustered his way into Cambridge. He worked for a time, heading the physics department at McGill University in Montreal. I was excited to learn there is a room dedicated to his research there, and will be near the top of my list to visit, after some Montreal smoked meat meals when I get to Montreal some day. 

Overall my impression was of how exciting it must have been in those days as all the big names, Bohr, Maxwell Clark,  Einstein, Thompson, were all making huge and profound discoveries for about 30 years. Rutherford was in the middle of it all, and I very much enjoyed reading about the heydays of science. This book is part of a series called Great Discoveries, all written by different authors, have all been good, concise and interesting. I'm interested in the Alan Turing and Richard Feynman books next.


Electric Universe: The Shocking True Story of Electricity - David Bodanis, 320 pages

Bodanis' book E=mc2 was one of my favourite physics books so I was excited to find this book of his about electricity. I ended up being a bit disappointed in the read, although it covered a lot of the big ideas. But just because it wasn't what I expected, doesn't mean it wasn't interesting. Maybe I know too much of some parts, and I didn't know all of it, but those parts aren't exactly what I would have included.

We start with Wires, and look at Samuel Morse and Joseph Henry developing the electromagnet and the telegraph, leading to the idea of things (electrons) flowing through wires. I thought we would start with Volta and the battery or Ben Franklin and the kite and charges. At this point, I realized Bodanis was somewhat dumbing down the science. He uses analogies, which is good, but he never takes the next step to include the actual science. So, this makes the book more of a introduction for non-science people.

Next up was Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison and JJ Thompson. Loved the Bell stuff, and it reminded me there is a Charlotte Gray biography I want to get to. (Reluctant Genius: Alexander Graham Bell and the Passion for Invention) Now how you can discuss Edison and his role in development of electricity without getting into his feud with Nicola Tesla over alternating current is a complete missed opportunity. Any opportunity to include Tesla and the crazy that is him should always be taken. (watch this great short bio of Tesla by Hank Green here, and enjoy the puppets!)

Now Waves. Correctly include Farraday and his theory of fields but it is left rather vaguely in its description. Fields are challenging to understand, but we expect high school students to develop an understanding and that's when I thought this book is much lower than high school. Cyrus Field and the transatlantic cable was something I wasn't familiar with but having read a book about Marconi, and waves in the air, felt like this was missing something. Bodanis kept talking about electromagnetic waves but kept it simple, and James Clerk Maxwell but this section still felt lacking.

Wave Machines gets us to Power in the Air and the development of radar during the wars which was good.  I did like Heinrich Hertz's diary excerpts. Computer development is next, up to the invention of the transistor, with some good stuff on Alan Turing, which also reminded me there is a Great Discovery book on Turing, plus the Benedict Cumberbatch movie to watch. 

I was not expecting the last section, The Brain and Beyond, looking into nerve transmission and the study of squids, and then neurotransmitters and development of Prozac. It really is a form of electricity and passing of charges. 

So, overall, wasn't the level of science I wanted, but still had some interesting information. Bodanis does a good job of tying the development of ideas to practical situations like the British trying to identify the German planes using electromagnetic radar and his writing is not intimidating at all. 



Saturday, May 4, 2019

BOOKS: Dublin Student Doctor and Unhallowed Ground

A Dublin Student Doctor - Patrick Taylor   🎧 (15 h 30 min)

This sixth book of fifteen was another wonderful outing. Doctor Fingal O'Reilly, the elder doctor in Ballybucklebo, while presently training his new doctor, remembers life as a student doctor just before the war in the 1930s, and when he met Nurse Kitty O'Halloran. Lots of previous situations show how O'Reilly became the doctor he did, and the other doctors he trained with who occasionally show up. There is a present day story intertwined with the olden days, and we know that Fingal and Kitty will meet up in later days as well.

These books always start off slowly for me, but then suddenly I'm on a listening binge and can't stop with the story. The narrator, John Keating, does a wonderful job with the voices and the Irish accent, presuming though that it is not an accent for him. Luckily, my library has recently acquired all the audiobooks in this series, so there will be lots more for me to listen to. 



Unhallowed Ground - Mel Starr (240 pages)

Book 4 of 11 in the Hugh de Singleton Chronicles

This series, a relatively realistic look at life in the late 1300s England, would be great for fans of the Brother Cadfael series. Hugh is a surgeon who trained in Paris, but then is hired to be a Bailiff for a local lord near Oxford. This causes him to investigate any deaths. By this fourth book, Hugh has married and beginning a new life with his wife. 

A local scoundrel is found hanged and while most hope he killed himself, Hugh suspects murder. As a side note, I'm not sure anyone in this family is left to be killed, as the atte Bridges have been the main plot of most of these books! Hugh grapples with investigating the possible suspects as the whole town had motives and everyone is happy he died. 

Just a great solid read with the historical element adding to the enjoyment.




Friday, May 3, 2019

BOOKS: Normal People by Sally Rooney and Milkman by Anna Burns

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A few 2019 Women's Prize for Fiction titles, both worthy nominees. Interestingly, both Irish novels.


Normal People by Sally Rooney (longlisted)

I was very excited to get Normal People to read on NetGalley. I was intrigued last year by this title when it was nominated for the Man Booker longlist but it wasn't available in Canada at that point.

Marianne is well off, and Connell is the son of Marianne's family's housekeeper in Sligo, Ireland. They begin seeing each other in high school, where Connell is cool and Marianne is not, so it begins in secret. They carry on together well into university in Dublin, but never officially, and never out in the open. They have a hold on each other, and fill a void that each needs. Not the healthiest of relationships, and yet, I hoped they could figure it out. Like electric charges periodically getting closer and then moving away, their ultimate trajectory is toward each other. Nothing in particular drives the plot, just the characters growing and developing. I liked the writing, the inner musings, and how Connell and Marianne helped each other. Like normal people do.


Milkman by Anna Burns (shortlisted, also won the Man Booker Prize 2018)

The writing style in this one won't be for everyone, but if it works for you, (and you'll know very early on) this is a great read. It worked for me completely and I'm not usually a fan of stream of consciousness. Having said that, I read this in small parts over a month or two, not my usual reading style. I kept being drawn back to the story, wondering what would happen next.

Set in 1970s Northern Ireland (presumedly, as there are precious few proper nouns in this book), main character, third sister is just out of high school and becomes the object of attention of a local paramilitary man, Milkman. Milkman is not to be confused with real milkman, or her boyfriend, called almost-boyfriend. The main character is relating what life if like in a semi war zone for a young girl trying to figure out where she fits in. She isn't a fan of this turbulent life, and so prefers to read 19th century novels as she walks around. This identifies her as beyond the pale, not fitting in with accepted social standards. Add to this the unwanted attention of Milkman and the attendant rumours that follow him, and life is dangerous.

The narrative circles around a lot; she begins a story then backs up for a while and eventually comes back around to the original story. "The day Somebody McSomebody put a gun to my breast and called me a cat and threatened to shoot me was the same day the milkman died."  The opening sentence is the end of the story and the rest of the book backtracks to show how it ended up where it did.
Overall, I really enjoyed this story with its unique writing style and I never really tired of it. I was invested in following the characters, especially almost-boyfriend.

Monday, April 22, 2019

MONDAY: What are You Reading?



It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? a place to meet up and share what you have been, and are about to be reading over the week and is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. This is my first time participating and I am in the middle of a few excellent reads!

In print:

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I am well into this captivating book of a band from the 70s, lots of drugs and rock and roll. It is a very quick read as it is done as a historical record of interviews from the band over the years.  Lots of fun!

Next up in print will be Electric Universe: The Shocking True Story of Electricity by David Bodanis.

In audio:



A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas, narrated by Kate Reading

Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle is the present that just keeps on giving inspiration to authors of all kinds. This version is a brilliant female take on the detective, and when the version of Dr Watson showed up, I was hooked.  It's been on my radar for a while, as sprite writes has been loving this series, always a recommendation I take seriously. I'm glad to see there are two more books in the series already.

From the modern day YA version with Charlotte Holmes and Jamie Watson at a boarding school, to the Robert Downing Jr, and the Benedict Cumberbatch movies, to the TV show House, Sherlock Holmes is a brilliant character, even if the actual books never intrigued me as much as Agatha Christie's did.

Next up in audio: The Island of the Sea Women by Lisa See

In ebook:



Milkman by Anna Burns

I've inherited my daughter's old mini iPad, so now I have an e-reader. I haven't read a lot on it but I found Milkman by Anna Burns for sale one day on Kindle deals and I've been loving it. I'm reading it slowly, but I am hoping to finish it today. Milkman won the Man Booker Prize and was on the Tournament of Books list in March. I still had no plan to read it but then it was on the Women's Prize for Fiction longlist and was on sale that week? I succumbed. The style is particular and won't be to everyone's brain but it really works for me. It reminds me of Anne Enright's  style in The Gathering and The Forgotten Waltz, the classic Irish stream of consciousness. Set during the 70s in Northern Ireland and dealing with 'the troubles' Burns never uses proper nouns but descriptions of people like third brother or wee sisters or almost-boyfriend. 

next up in e-book: Normal People by Sally Rooney, another Women's Prize for Fiction longlisted book that I got on Netgalley.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Things That Make Me Pick Up a Book




The topic this week is Things That Make Me Pick Up a Book - those key words that you read on the cover or in a review that make it easy to decide to read. I expect a list of topics that make you avoid books would be just as easy to write.
Check out That Artsy Reader Girl for other blog posts on this topic, or for future topics.


a villa or cottage -  apparently, since the last two books I've picked up on a kindle daily deal are The Irish Cottage and The Island Villa



detective - perfect  Some detectives are perfect like Inspector Gamauche or Brunetti, or Phryne Fisher or Detective Kopp


detective - damaged  Infinitely more interesting, like Jackson Brodie (new book alert - Big Sky coming in June 2019)  Bennie Griessel, and Cormoran Strike




sisters - I love me a good sister book, and there are many. Some recent stellar books with sisters includes The Golden Tresses of the Dead, The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox, and My Sister, the Serial Killer




boarding schools -  Boarding schools make great settings because children get to be relatively unsupervised, without resorting to Lord of the Flies territory, since adults are theoretically around. The last few good boarding school books have all been courtesy of 2018's YA Sync free audiobooks. (Annual plug for this great program: the 2019 titles have been announced!) A Study in Charlotte, Openly Straight, and Extraordinary Means.




1930s -  Books set in or written in the 1930s are ripe for writers, bookended by both wars. Even overlooking Maisie Dobbs and Her Royal Spyness, I have a significant number of books tagged this in my library. Looking forward, The Boys in the Boat, looks like a good 1930s nonfiction read.




Australia -  Liane Moriarty and Jane Harper are two new authors from last year that I can't miss. Moriarty with epic character/mystery stories like Nine Perfect Strangers, and Harper with a new police detective. 



connected stories -  There are not enough of these books, but I love finding them - The Tsar of Love and Techno, Number 11, Olive Kitteridge

There There by Tommy Orange, a recent read, fits my definition of these books. Each chapter is a different character getting ready to head to a pow-wow.



epistolary -  I say I like epistolary, and yet I haven't read any recently like some of my favourites - Bridget Jones, Clara Callen, and The Incident Report. A quick search added The Chilbury Ladies' Choir and Meet Me at the Museum to my list.




prize lists - The Women's Prize for Fiction is an annual list to use for reading.