Thursday, November 3, 2022

NONFICTION NOVEMBER: Summary of 2022 Reads

Nonfiction November gives me a chance to look back on the nonfiction reads since last November. Including December 2021, I've read 16 nonfiction books since last year. The most common type of NF would be memoir and true crime. Here with a short summary of the books I liked best:

Blood in the Water - Silver Donald Cameron

True Canadian crime, this was a crazy read of small town murder in a fairly local community, within the Maritimes. I was engrossed, and looked up some podcasts related to the incident, and found a documentary as well. How do you deal with a a*hole in the community when he never quites goes too far for the law, but he goes too far for people to put up with him? (one of the last books I read in 2021)

The Feather Thief
- Kirk Wallace Johnson 🎧

Another great true crime book, which combined some historical accounts of some scientists besides Darwin who looked at evolution. This was quite a crazy tale and I would recommend this one as a good nonfiction book with a great story.

These Precious Days - Ann Patchett

I am having an Ann Patchett year, and this book of essays was varied and very readable. Nothing controversial, just a good author writing about writing and her life. Memoir-ish.

Freezing Order - Bill Browder

I've seen Browder on CNN talking about the Magnitsky Act, a way for other countries to deal with the rogue state of Russia and Putin as they launder money and deal with their political opponents. Browder is a pretty brave guy and is working hard to bring awareness to Russia. 


One Good Reason - Sean McCann

I've a huge Great Big Sea fan and Sean McCann was a big part of their history until he left the band. His memoir of what lead to him leaving, mostly due to heavy drinking brought on by some youth trauma certainly has two sides about the actual leaving, which didn't go well as you'd like from a bunch of lads that you like. But he did what he had to for his family. His wife plays a big part of the story, as how they dealt with life was based on both of their life experiences. Good read, good people.

The Vanishing Triangle: The Murdered Women Ireland Forgot
(ebook)- Clare McGowen
True crime in Ireland, looking at how the death of young women is not looked at seriously enough for a myriad of reasons. There may have been a serial killer or two, many domestic violence situations, and nobody looking very hard in the nineties. There were a lot of names to keep track of, it's real life so it doesn't wrap up easily or neatly, but there is no doubt the author did her research, and made some pointed comments on how Irish society dealt with the crimes.

And a summary of the rest of them: 

Vanderbilt - Anderson Cooper 🎧

Historical account of Cooper's famous family. I've enjoyed other books by Anderson Cooper more, but the Vanderbilts lived a wild life.

Before My Time - Ami McKay  🎧

Memoir of a Canadian author and her family's dangerous cancer marker and how they have been studied. 

Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times - Katherine May 🎧

Self-help type book, I liked it at the time, but can't remember a lot of it now as I read it in January. I shouldn't really read self-help books. 

Untamed - Glennon Doyle 🎧

Self-help books can sometimes get me angry as I argue with the author in my head all the time. Doyle got a brainful from me. But there were sections I did like, when she focused more on the feminism stuff, but her enlightenment reminded me of the motivational speakers who live their life a certain way, then see the light and feel the need to let everyone know this new way of living. More infuriating, Doyle wrote previous self-help books on her past life, and then writes new ones on her new life. How do I know you won't find another new life philosophy and this one will be passe? 

Taste: My Life Through Food - Stanley Tucci 🎧
I've been super enjoying Tucci's CNN series Italy and this memoir is kind of related, but not quite as good. He's a nice guy, into food a lot, perhaps a bit snobbish about it (I've stopped cutting my spaghetti, lol after a comment in the book that adults should not be cutting their spaghetti!). He has had some rough times in his life as his first wife died, but he keeps a good attitude.

The Wake: The Deadly Legacy of a Newfoundland Tsunami - Linden MacIntyre 🎧
MacIntryre wrote one of my favourite books, Causeway, his memoir/historical book about Cape Breton, so I had high expectations. Maybe too high? This was still good and but more on the historical and very little memoir. It was an interesting premise to explain how Newfoundland has had to struggle in so many ways as a 'have-not' province, and he traces it back to a tsuanmi in the early 1900s.

Do You Mind if I Cancel? - Gary Janetti 🎧
Snarky, funny, and unmemorable comments by the Hollywood writer. 

Someone Like Me: How One Undocumented Girl Fought for her American Dream - Julissa Arce 🎧
This was a YA Sync free audiobook and was a good story of one young girl and the challenges she faced. Nothing new here, perfectly fine, but unmemorable.

Secret Soldiers: How the US Twenty-third Troops Fooled the Nazis - Paul B Janeczko 🎧
Another YA Sync read which was an interesting part of the United States part in WW2 in Europe. However, the prologue really gave me enough of the story that the rest of the book was just filling in details about what the prologue completely explained! Listen to the prologue to get the main idea, unless you love all the details, but I felt I got the gist of the story.

As Fast As Her - Kendall Coyne 🎧
YA Sync memoir from the US women's hockey team, I liked Coyne's story of her life growing up and loving hockey. This Canadian reader loved the hockey stuff, but hearing the US-Canadian women's hockey rivalry from the American point of view was a little hard for me, lol. 

And since November would be a great month to read some nonfiction, here are some books I have on hand that I hope to get through, including finishing up some YA Sync audiobook reads.

This is the Story of a Happy Marriage - Ann Patchett
Black Lion: Teachings from the Wilderness
Crescendo: The True Story of a Musical Genius Who Forever Changed a Small Town
The Real Herge: The Inspiration behind Tintin
Singled Out: The True Story of Glen Burke
A Time of Fear: America in the Era of Red Scares and Cold War

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Books From My Past Seasonal TBR Posts I STILL Haven’t Read


This list of shame has been following me for many years. I found books from a 2013 list! Eek.
I've loved making these lists over the years and I have actually been pretty good, although I noticed a few books that I read this year that almost made this list.
For more lists and future topics, visit That Artsy Reader Girl.

Cop Killer by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo
spring 2022, spring 2021

Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart
Spring 2021

This is Not My Life by Diane Schoemperlen
Fall 2017
Canadian nonfiction, a Charles Taylor Prize finalist, 

Death by Black Hole and other Cosmic Quandaries by Neil deGrasse Tyson
Fall 2017
I've got this one on my desk at school and I am trying to read one essay a day. I bet the title essay has the word 'spaghettification' in it

Sovereign by C.J. Sansom
Summer 2019
book 3 in the Shardlake series
I like to try one big ole book in the summer and this series is always top-notch

The Color of Bee Larkham's Murder by Sarah J Harris
 Summer 2019, Summer 2020
a publisher freebie, I've been meaning to get to it, and then heard it recc'd on CBC, on one of those 'books to read this summer'

The Island Villa by Lily Graham
Summer 2019
described as 'the perfect feel good summer read' 

Summer 2020
Daphne DuMaurier

Microserfs by Douglas Coupland
Summer 2013

The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin 
Summer 2013

Friday, July 8, 2022

CHALLENGE: Historical Fiction Reading, June


Only one historical fiction from June - also a movie on Netflix but I haven't seen yet.

Their Finest by Lissa Evans
1943-44 London

Their Finest follows a group of people in London during the Blitz who work for a film company making patriotic shorts and movies. There are several story lines that will join up for the patient reader - a woman writer seconded to add some punch to the female roles in the movie, and a costume designer at Madame Tousant's who leaves London for safety and becomes involved with the film. Both women are lonely and the war is not helping.

There is a lot going on and other than getting the movie made, there isn't a driving plot. I couldn't always see where the book was going, and yet I liked it. I liked the characters and their struggles, life in London even though it was brutal, and the movie making. 

This is the second Lissa Evans book I read - I also read Crooked Heart in 2017. It was also London and Blitz related but it tugged my heart-strings more overall. The end of Their Finest (or Their Finest Hour) was good, but not necessarily a happy ending - it is the Blitz after all, but by the end I was really hoping for a few of the characters.  

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Books On My Summer 2022 To-Read List


The topic this week is My Summer TBR list. I've been reading a bit less, and simultaneously have so many books I want to read that this list is harder than usual. I'm only picking a few books as I am not feeling like putting books on here that I may not read. Being able to make a reasonable list is as important as crossing off the books. I'm an NOT putting Cop Killer or Shuggie Bain on this list because they have been added to so many of these lists I am getting tired of not reading them. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

TOP TEN TUEDAY: Books With a Unit of Time in the Title


Thursday, June 2, 2022

CHALLENGE: Historical Fiction Reading, May


Just the one historical fiction in May, and it barely makes the 50 year mark, but I think it still counts. Good read! I am part way through my next historical fiction, but it will be in the June wrap-up.

The Island of Missing Trees - Elif Shafak

1970s Cyprus, late 2010s England

Canadians have been on a UN Peacekeeping mission to Cyprus since 1964, although it is a much smaller presence these days. I have a cousin who spent time there, so it is a place I have heard of and was always aware of the conflict there. Not the reasons or details, but by this point, it barely matters, as in any long term conflict. 

This is the story of a teenager in late 2010s London, Ada, but it is also the story of her parents and how they met in Cyprus in the 1970s. Kostas, Greek and Christian, and Defne, Turkish and Muslim, meet and fall in love as teenagers. Back and forth we go, seeing Ada in the present and her parents sneaking to the Happy Fig Tavern where they can be together. A fig tree does a fair bit of narrating, which was an interesting touch, especially if you have read The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben. 

There is much tragedy, sadness, but also families, and the nature of trees. Shafak writes with humor as well. There is just a lot going on but done in a very well done way. I liked the story a lot, even while flipping back and forth in time so much. That is on me as I was listening and sometimes I miss things on audio. I was predisposed to like Defne as I taught a Turkish student a few years ago named Defne, which makes the name have wonderful associations. 

I'll look for another book by Shafak.

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Comfort Reads

What makes a comfort read? It should be a quick read, not too long, there should be no terrible things happen and it should feel like there will be a happy ending (spoiler- there will be a happy ending). Here's my list of books, several of which I've read more than once, that as I read the title, I get a happy feeling of remembrance.

For more posts, and future topics for Top Ten Tuesday, visit That Artsy Reader Girl.

Blue Castle by LM Montgomery

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winnifred Watson

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson

A Guide to Birds of East Africa by Nicholas Drayson

Bridget Jones' Diary by Helen Fielding

Evening Class by Maeve Binchy

The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver

The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith

The Penderwick: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune