Tuesday, May 10, 2022

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Bookish Characters


The topic this week is Bookish Characters (these could be readers, writers, authors, librarians, professors, etc.). I've gone through books I've read and enjoyed a lot and highly recommend! And found extra reasons to read each book. And maybe listed eleven, lol, because I liked the topic.

For more posts and future topics, visit That Artsy Reader Girl who hosts.

Unless - Carol Shields (author)
The main character, an author, is struggling as her daughter has dropped out of life and is sitting on a street corner, with a sign around her neck, 'goodness'
Bonus: feminist slant to all the naval gazing

Misery - Stephen King (author)
What happens to an author who stops writing a series, and a crazy fan is not impressed? 
Bonus: you can watch the excellent movie as well

The Magpie Murders - Anthony Horowitz (author/agent)
The manuscript has been passed in and then the author disappears. The author's agent must figure out what happened, based on the unpublished manuscript. 
Bonus: you get two books in one because you also read the manuscript.

The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon (librarian, book seller)
A young boy finds an old book and while looking for more books by the author, discovers all the author's books are being destroyed. 
Bonus: the setting is a gothic Barcelona

Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery (reader/writer)
Poor orphan Anne has always escaped into books and writing to offset her miserable life, before she comes to Green Gables
Bonus: later book, Anne of Windy Poplar, is all letters written by Anne to Gilbert

The Eyre Affair - Jasper Fforde (just all about books!)
A whole world within books, with book detectives trying to keep the endings the way they should be without rouge characters trying to change things.
Bonus: all your favourite books/characters are here, and there are sequels

The Book Thief - Markus Zuzak (reader)
A little girl sneaks into a home library and reads books. In Berlin, during the war, and she is Jewish. 
Bonus: Death is the narrator

The Giver of Stars - Jojo Moyes (mobile librarians)
Women librarians taking books on horseback to isolated farms
Bonus: try Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey for the same version of story, but in a future America

Eight Perfect Murders - Peter Swanson (bookseller)
A bookseller who wrote a list of the most unsolvable murders from literature gets caught up in a murder investigation when someone begins using his list to actually kill
Bonus: You get a list of 8 great murder mysteries to read afterward

The Sentence - Louise Erdrich (bookstore worker)
I wanted a book I've read recently on the list and this one was good, and topical, set in Minnesota during 2020 so expect Covid lockdowns and George Floyd murder. Much of the book is set in a bookstore where the main character is being haunted by a dead patron.
Bonus: books list at the back, of books the main character referenced

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

TOP TEN TUESDAY: One-Word Reviews for the Last Ten Books I Read


Top Ten Tuesday this week is One-Word Reviews for the last ten books I've read. This is a great idea, and one I should incorporate every month to give a quick recap of the books I've read. For more topics and posts see That Artsy Reader Girl.

The Raven's Tale - Cat Winters 🎧  - gothic

The Paris Apartment - Lucy Foley 🎧 - secrets

Small Things Like These - Clare Keegan 🎧 - Itish, gor

Lucifer's Harvest - Mel Starr - medieval

What Strange Paradise - Omar El Akkad  🎧 - refugees

Magpie Lane - Lucy Atkins (ebook) - negligence

Taste: My Life Through Food - Stanley Tucci 🎧- yummmm!

Out of Line Short Story Collection : This Telling - Cheryl Strayed; Halfway to Free - Emma Donaghue; Shine, Pamela! Shine - Kate Atkinson (ebook)  - pregnancy

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev - Dawnie Walton  -  🎧 - seventies

Small Pleasures - Clare Chambers  - 🎧 - delightful

Sunday, May 1, 2022



Lucifer's Harvest by Mel Starr
1300s Oxford, England
#9 The Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton, surgeon

This medieval series would be great for people who have read Brother Cadfael and have run out of books. Set in the 1300s of England near Oxford, Hugh has studied as a surgeon, and is now the bailiff for a local lord, charged with investigating crimes that occur under his region. Time passes in the series, so we see Hugh court, marry, have children. It's plague times, so there is lots of death, and lots of medieval deaths due to, well, anything. Life is tough.
This wasn't my favourite in the series as Lord Gilbert has packed up the men in his employ to head to France to support Prince Edward in his fight in Aquatine, and Hugh has to go along to look after injuries. So it's all the lords and upper class men 'fighting' and getting into trouble, and no random village people or Hugh's family to watch. I'll keep reading though - I've got the next two books out from the library (because the library is closing, to move in June, so not due til July)

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton
1970s America

I guess the 1970s are now historical fiction as 1972 is now fifty years ago, sheesh! Opal and Nev reminds me a lot of Daisy Jones and the Six. Both are told as a bio-pic type story, with interviews from all the relevent characters. It took me a while to get into the book, and keep all the characteres straight which considering it was an audio with full cast, shouldn't have. But I did eventually get involved in the story, and enjoyed the look at race relations, and music history. The idea is that the editor of a magazine is looking into the concert/turned riot that killed her drummer father just before her birth. The musical duo Opal and Nev, a young black girl and a white man, played their last show at the riot. The editor looks into what exactly happened that night, and interviews all the players, and of course has her own vested interest in it all, as Opal and Nev begin plans for a reunion tour. 

Small Pleasures by Clare Chambers
1950s England

Sweet find of the month which hit my literary sweet spots - a quiet look at a 'spinster' woman in late 1950s England. Jean works at a local paper, looking after her widowed, cranky mother. Her boring life takes a turn to the interesting when she receives a letter from a woman who claims that her daughter was born of a virgin birth. Jean investigates for the paper but gets entangled in the family, befriending the mother, becoming an aunt-like friend to the ten year old daughter, and especially attached to the doting husband. Quiet but insightful, looking at balance between duty and self-interest. Delightful!

Turns out this is based on two stories that Chambers read in an old newpaper and turned into one story. I like getting to hear about the inspiration that may have been behind a story. This is also described as for fans of Kazou Ishiguro, Ann Patchett, and Tessa Hadley.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Books with Oceans On the Cover

Top Ten Books with --- on the Cover is the topic this week and I have chosen Oceans on the cover. Spring is in the air (although there is definitely still a risk of frost, and a skiff of snow wouldn't be unheard of). One of the signs of spring for me is that it is time to buy my National Park pass for the summer, allowing me to go to the North Shore beaches of Prince Edward Island from July to September. And July to September are the best months on PEI. Now, most Islanders know how to get into the National Park without having a pass, or can easily find a non-National Park Beach like Lakeside or Panmure Island, or like at my cottage, Locke Shore which are all free, but Brackley and Cavendish and Stanhope are where all the action is, and are great beaches that are easy to get to, about 25 minutes from my home.

Beaches = ocean, tides, and beautiful sand. I also just ordered myself a new beach chair to take to the beach. I am getting a peaceful feeling just imagining sitting at the beach with a book, looking out on the ocean horizon forever. Sigh. 

For future topics and links to everyone else's posts, visit That Artsy Reader Girl.

my view from Stanhope beach last summer 

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Authors I Haven’t Read, But Want To


The topic (yesterday) for Top Ten Tuesday is Authors I Haven't Read But Want To. Easy topic to find ten authors for! For more of yesterday's posts and future topics, visit That Artsy Reader Girl.

VE Schwab 

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, Gallant

Simone St James

The Book of Cold Cases, The Sun Down Motel

Elif Shafak

Island of the Missing Trees, The Bastard of Istanbul,

Kate Quinn

The Huntress, The Alice Network

Sarah Moss

Ghost Wall, Summerland, 

Dorothy Sayers

Gaudy Night, Whose Body? Strong Poison

Mary Kubica

Don't You Cry, The Good Girl

Colleen Hoover

Envy, Ugly Love,

Sonali Dev

Recipe for Persuasion, Incense and Sensibility, 

Val McDermid

mystery series

Tuesday, April 5, 2022


It's a Freebie Week for Top Ten Tuesday hosted at That Artsy Reader Girl, and I found this draft post from a few years ago that highlighted a few of the YA Sync audiobooks that were offered in summer of 2019. Pretty good deal for free books, and the fact that some of them were so good is really just a bonus. 

I started walking a lot that summer, and audiobooks were a big part of my fitness routine. I could always tell when I really liked a book, because I would just keep walking, or I couldn't wait to bet back out and listen to more of the book.

As this program is still going on, and is starting up the end of April 2022, keep an eye out or sign up for email or text reminders to get your 2 free audiobooks each week. 

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
Modern day story of a teen girl who chooses to go to a boarding school in London, and then a copy-cat Jack the Ripper starts up, and the school is in the neighbourhood of these murders. There was a paranormal level to the story, that gradually appeared, which made it acceptable to me as I'm not really a paranormal activity reader.
I've read previous books by Johnson, like Let it Snow, and 13 Little Blue Envelopes, so I knew she was a quality writer. There are more books in this series, called Shades of London, and while I really enjoyed The Name of the Star, I'm not sure I'll go out of my way to find the next three books.
I will however, look for that nonfiction book about the victims of Jack the Ripper.

Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach

Nonfiction science book by amazing author (Packing for Mars, and Stiff) made this a book I knew I would enjoy, and humorous and nosy author Roach did not disappoint. Here's short synopsis from Librarything:
This novel focuses on the alimentary canal, which is basically, what happens from your mouth to your colon. You will learn all sorts of things about saliva, taste, the stomach and how food is digested and what science has done to experiment with people to learn these things, why the colon doesn't explode when one is unable to expel excrement, and why pooping is so important.

So, if science of somewhat gross things appeals to you, you need to check out Mary Roach's books

Olivia Twist by Lorie Langdon
Great retelling of Oliver Twist that made me wish I had read Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens before. Alas, I won't, and I often enjoy retellings more than the original. Even without the parallels, this was a great story - orphans, poor kids, Victorian London streets, a touch of romance, and a murder mystery. Great setting, good plot, and well-written characters. It was just a rollicking good time, and the Oliver Twist connection just added to it.

The Golden Day by Ursula Dubosarsky
Well, this was a creepy little story. Set in Ausralia in the 1960s at a girls' school, there is a lot of vague things happening that builds up the creepiness. One day, a teacher and eleven students go on an unplanned outing, and the teacher ends up disappeared. I'm not even completely sure what happened, but it certainly had my attention while I read it.

Blink & Caution by Tim Wynne-Jones
This was another fast-paced adventure with two run away teens. I really liked the Toronto setting, as I felt like I could picture everything happening. The social issue of homelessness, coupled with the adventure - Blink observes a kidnapping and then meets up with Caution, both running from abusive situations.

Vincent & Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers by Deborah Heligman
The boys were crazy but talented. They spent their whole life fighting with each other in how they would life their lives. Vincent worked hard at his art, and then dealt with mental illness. 

Wild Bird by Wendelin Van Draanan
I didn't remember what this book was about, but when I looked it up, I did remember. A young girl is taken to a Outward Bound type situation to deal with her drug abuse. She is very angry at the start, but it ends up being heart-warming and a good read.

Becoming Kareem: Growing Up On and Off the Court by Kareem Abdul-Jabaar
How could you not be a fan of Kareem Abdul-Jabaar after reading this book? He is the intellectual, thoughtful, progressive thinker that he appears to be, and also a fantastic athlete. He always knew that there were more important things than sports thought. 

You by Charles Benoit

This was a short book, and again, my memory is vague. I see 'second person' perspective in reviews, and my memory is that he was a disturbed teenager, making poor choices.