Friday, December 31, 2010

BOOKS: Not Finished in 2010

It takes a long time for me to decide to put down a book. I like to hope that it will get better as sometimes books don't pick up until half way through. I also keep reading for a while, analyzing why I'm not liking the book. Generally, once I start thinking that, it does make it hard for the book to pick up.  For different reasons, each of the following did not get finished.

The Lost Highway by David Adams Richards, read 125/380, + last 15 pages

I've liked other books by Richards, (see Hockey Dreams and Mercy Among the Children.) I actually tried to read this one other time, but didn't get past page 25, so I gave this try a much better effort. It really just never worked for me.

Ultimately, this is a tragedy, with the lead character just so awful I didn't care to see his downfall. Alex Chapman is a hypocrite, and possibly deranged; the part I read set up his revenge filled mind by telling his life story. He was easily bullied, and then blamed everyone while teaching an ethics class. His hated uncle has a winning lottery ticket, and Alex hopes to get it for himself. I've read this described as a mystery thriller, but I never got the to mystery part. I know by the time I stopped, my hope was that Alex never got the money. I read the last few pages (thanks Jenny!)  and was glad I didn't read any more.

I recognize some similar themes with Mercy Among the Children, along with characters like the local priest, university types, innocent country girls, plus the Miramichi setting. Fans of tragedies, and moral studies may enjoy this one. I'm still a fan of Adams but not of pathetic tragedies. I didn't like Romeo and Juliet either.

The Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore, read 67/321

New York Times Notable Book of 2009; Long listed for the Orange Prize in 2010

Another book that was taking forever for anything to happen and I just wasn't interested in keeping on. I kept falling asleep, and didn't like any of the characters enough to want to keep reading.

I don't have anything particularly bad to say about this one, there are just too many books I'd rather read.

Candy Girl by Diablo Cody, read about half

Cody wrote Juno, the delightfully quirky movie, and won an Oscar for the screenplay. This was her account as a stripper in Minneapolis before she hit the big time in Hollywood. The whole book felt like she only tried stripping so she'd have material for the book. She seemed scornful of the other strippers, as if it was all beneath her. The chapters were short, and the writing was good and easy to read. I had just read enough of her faux stripping history.

Thursday, December 30, 2010


I've set this up in order to connect to all the wonderful bloggers that I've been meeting through reading challenges, starting with the Classics Challenge and now, too many challenges to mention. See the novel challenges link on the sidebar.

I enjoy visiting other blogs, from link to link to link, and feel free to comment here. I'd love to read what you thought about a book I read. I'll always come back to visit you. I'm a mom to three kids, wife, and high school teacher who ignores the housework and plays on the computer too much, when I'm not reading. I used to run a lot more, but indoors is more fun these days; however, my waistline is beginning to protest.

This blog is for all things book related: reviews, lists, memes, and anything remotely related to books. There are other things that I muse about at livejournal.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

BOOK: Unless by Carol Shields

Unless by Carol Shields, 322 pages

Orange January (shortlist 2003); Canada Reads 2011; 4th Canadian CBC

Linda Holmes, of NPR, wrote a great article in the summer, in the middle of a Franzen fracas, about why chick lit is a bad title. If you recall, Johnathan Franzen's summer release, Freedom, was the darling of all the literati. (Admission: haven't read it, have no plans to read it, even though my Google Reader is full up of fans of his books.) Maureen Johnson also wrote a much linked article about the dearth of attention to woman writers, among other things. I so wish Carol Shields had been around to add her two cents worth, since I believe she had much to say about male/female writers and their books. In fact, she wrote about it in her last published book, Unless. In 2002.

Reta Winters is a forty something writer, with every reason to be happy. Except, her nineteen year old daughter has suddenly dropped out of life, and is on a quest for goodness by begging on a street corner. Reta is given lots of comparisons about why this isn't so bad, but for her, it's everything. Shields starts the book off slowly, and I certainly felt the higher level of reading than I often read, but I felt stretched, in a very good way. With an author as the main character, there is lots of navel-gazing, and Reta even references herself as navel-gazing within the book, mocking herself for being an author and writing about writing. Part of the way Reta deals with her sadness and concern over her daughter, who she believes felt marginalized in a male dominated world, is to write letters pointing out the lack of female writers referenced in articles she's read.

Unless is a big story of identification told in one woman's experience. Hey, isn't that what male writer's do? But when women do it, it's called chick lit or a story for women. When men do, they are describing the life experience and get awards. The best, or rather most infuriating part of the book, is when Reta's editor decides her sequel book should be a big 'literature' book. She'll just have to switch the focus from the female character's search for goodness  to the male character's search for greatness. Yes, Carol Shields goes there. Rock on sister.

Perfect book to start off Orange January a little early. Bonus points for me since Unless is nominated for Canada Reads 2011. I can't wait to hear this book debated in February.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010



They're really more suggestions, but here are the guidelines for NaJuReMoNoMo participation:

1. Must Be A Novel. Works of fiction only, please. Memoirs, non-fiction, how-to books, and Garfield collections don't count.

2. Memoirs Aren't Novels. No matter how made up the story, anything ostensibly true isn't a novel. Also known as The James Frey Rule.

3. Start and Finish in January. I guess if you got some cool books for Christmas, Hanukkah or some other gift-giving event and jumped the gun, you can't be blamed. But I only count books I start and finish within the 31 day window.

4. Re-reading Doesn't Count. Try something new. Read something by your favorite author or try an entirely new author or tackle that novel you have always wanted to read.

5. Have Fun. Nobody is grading you or paying you or judging you. Read what you like and like what you read.
Check out the Facebook Page as well. This will be my third year participating. It's the easiest challenge ever!

The Books I Read in January:
1.Case Histories - Kate Atkinson
2. Dash & Lily's Book of Dares -Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
3. 26A - Diana Evans
4. In the Company of Cheerful Ladies - Alexander McCall Smith
5. The House at Riverton - Kate Morton
6. In a Strange Room - Damon Galgut
7. Started Early, Took My Dog - Kate Atkinson
8. The Bone Cage - Angie Andou
9. Cocaine Blues - Kerry Greenwood

Monday, December 27, 2010

CHALLENGE: Graphic Novels

Vasilly is the new host for the 2011 Graphic Novels Challenge, hosted on a dedicated blog. As always, the goal is to read graphic novels.

The level of participation: Beginner (3 comics or graphic novels), Intermediate (3-10 books), or Expert (10+)

There will be no mini-challenges this year, but there will be a monthly spotlight on one book or author every month, along with a guest post every month and with monthly prizes.

For more information, visit the dedicated blog. To sign up, visit the sign up post.

There are still a few graphic novels I'd like to read, so signing up for this will remind me about the books I want to read. 

Here's the list from the library:

Essex County Vol 3: Tales of a Country Nurse - Jeff Lemire
Ghost World - Daniel Clowes
Birth of a Nation - Aaron McGruder
Che - the graphic biography
Tricked - Alex Robinson
The Fate of the Artist - Eddie Campbell
City of Glass - Paul Auster
The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl - Barry Lyga

The books I read:
1. Essex County - Jeff Lemire
2. Anya's Ghost - Vera Brosgol

BOOK: King Leary by Paul Quarrington

King Leary by Paul Quarrington, 232 pages

4th Canadian Book Challenge; 2nds Book Challenge (finished!)

King Leary won Canada Reads in 2008, and was previously awarded the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humor in 1988. It is a humorous look back on the life of King Leary, famous hockey player. Leary narrates the hard luck story of his early life, the awesome hockey player he was, and his friendship with two childhood friends. Lots of booze, lots of hockey, lots of old man reminiscing. Loosely based on King Clancy of the Leafs I believe, it was a classic "old man reminiscing book" - back and forth between present and past, present events bring up old happenings, and some weird coincidences keep the story moving.

Leary was fun, and funny - he gets drunk on Canada Dry, and this was a good, Canadian read. I liked how he called the Maple Leafs  'the Leaves' and how he gradually comes to admire the newest hotshot hockey player. Manny Ozkean, his childhood friend, was a sad story of alcoholism, which just shows that there have always been young gifted athletes who waste their talents on addictions. Quarrington has a wonderful way with the turn of the phrase, which elevates this "old man reminiscing book," in my books.

Nowadays they got something called "powerskating." ... it was just hardstepping, which I been doing since I was born. Here's what you do. You puff up your spirit till it won't fit into your body anymore. You get your feet to dance across the icebelly of the world. You get empty except for life and the winter wind. p12

Sunday, December 26, 2010

BOOK: We Need to Talk About Kelvin by Marcus Chown

We Need to Talk About Kelvin by Marcus Chown, 268 pages

also titled: The Matchbox That Ate a Forty-Ton Truck: What Everyday Things Tell Us About the Universe

Science Book Challenge (finished!)

The book ends with a great quote by Fermi: "Before I came here I was confused about this subject. Having listened to your lecture I am still confused. But on a higher level." p216

And that about sums up the experience. The book is divided into 3 sections: What the Everyday World is Telling You about Atoms, What the Everyday World is Telling You about Stars, and What the Everyday World is Telling You about the Universe. The idea is that Chown takes an everyday idea -how you see yourself in the window explains why, ultimately, things happen for no reason, and this can explain much about atoms. It's a neat idea, and I liked the first section , about Atoms, a lot, because it built on the knowledge I already have the most. If you were reading this to learn about science from scratch, I think it might be tough. But for someone with a basic science background, this would be a book to start with.

We live in a quantum universe that large looks un-quantum. p157

I teach non quantum physics in high school, and didn't take a lot of quantum physics in my chemistry degree in university, so while I understand quite a bit, it's been a while.Plus it's been twenty years since I was in school! Theories have changed.  Chown does a great job of keeping things simpler; however, there were sections that confused didn't explain everything I needed. The section About Stars was getting a bit beyond me. But I may have been getting tired. The last section, About the Universe, especially the section ending on Extra Terrestrial life, kept things more readable.

This book will enter my classroom library, with a glossary at the back to explain concepts and terms, easy reference to scientists, and lots of notes and references. It is also full of quotes from poetry and scientists, and contains no formulas. Chown starts with a simple idea, explains in easy terms and then builds from there. As a science book goes, it goes very well. I made the effort to order the book wit the We Need to Talk About Kelvin title which wasn't available in Canada. We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shiver was such a great read, I needed to have the better title

Thursday, December 23, 2010

LIST: Reading Experiences from 2010

Suey posted this end of year meme this week, and I just gakked it from her. Gak away!

Best Book: Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson.

Worst Book: The Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Morgan was one of the few books I didn't finish. Nothing offensive, just not interesting enough to keep reading.

Most Disappointing Book: The Swimming Pool by Holly Lecraw didn't seem to match the blurb, so while I was expecting a mystery, I got family angst that wasn't even that angsty.

Most Surprising Book:  The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. Nonfiction book that reads like fiction, which taught me a lot about biology, genes, and bad moral decisions.

The Book Most Recommended to Others:  Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winnifred Watson. Cutest book, and I really must get the movie to watch.

Best Series Discovered: Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear and Benny Griesel (by Deon Meyer)

Favorite New Authors Discovered:  Catherine O' Flynn  This was the only author I read for the first time, and then read a second book by her (The News Where You Are,  and What Was Lost) immediately. Both were excellent.

Most Hilarious Read: She Got Up Off the Couch by Haven Kimmel; A Tiny Bit Marvellous by Dawn French; Paper Towns by John Green (funny road trip scene)

Most Thrilling, Unputdownable Book: Thirteen Hours by Deon Meyer. Police mystery over 13 frantic hours in South Africa. Looking forward to reading another in this series.

Most Anticipated Book: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. Me and everyone else.

Favorite Cover: Shiver by Maggie Stievgarer. I read the book because I loved the cover of the series. Didn't like the book as much.

Most Memorable Character: Jack, the little boy in Room was very memorable, along with his mother

Most Beautifully-Written Book: hmm, can't really pick one for this, but I'm going to add best re-read, The Blue Castle, by LM Montgomery, because it needs to be somewhere on this list.

Book That Had the Greatest Impact On You: Broken For You by Stephanie Kallos

Book you Can't Believe you Waited Until 2010 to Read: We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. Considering how great "The Lottery" was, which I read in high school, I'm surprised it took me this long to read another Jackson.

New Favorite Book Blog You Discovered: Buried in Print, one of several new Canadian blogs. She writes insightful reviews, and reads such different books than I do.

Favorite Review You Wrote: The Year of the Flood by Atwood. Also gets honorable mention as most beautiful cover.

Best Book Event You Participated in During 2010: The Holiday Book Swap is always fun! I also enjoyed the Detectives Around the World, although now I know so many more mysteries to read.

Best Bookish Discovery of 2010: In 2010, I really got back into mysteries, and I am glad for that. Over the years, before blogging, mysteries were my go to books.

How about you? What books (or blog posts) would you plug into these categories?

Monday, December 20, 2010

BLOGGING: Christmas Events

Merry Christmas to me! I received my Book Blooger Holiday Swap package at the end of last week from Jonita, at the Book Chick Blog. After I met her at her blog, and thanked her, she posted about getting her Book Swap package, from PEI! Those sneaky organizers almost did a true swap, but there are other bloggers on PEI. I know, because I sent my package to PEI. I almost hand delivered it, but thought that might be weird. We are hoping to have a meet-up soon.

One of the things I like about the swap is I generally meet new bloggers, and, of course, the books! Jonita sent me two books that look really good - Just One Look by Harlan Coban, a mystery by an author I've been wanting to read, and Conversations With the Fat Girl, a chick lit book that looks cute. Jonita reads lots of chick lit, so I trust she sent me a good one. She'd know.  She also sent a lovely card with a whole letter written inside, and some chocolate covered peanuts. Not individually covered, but little piles of chocolatey goodness. Now, these peanuts are locally grown in Ontario. Who knew we grew peanuts in Canada? I certainly didn't. I kept the box to photograph, but the inside of the box was polished off that night. I didn't want to share, and almost convinced my 13 year old son that he wouldn't like them. He backed off, then looked again, and asked why wouldn't he like them - they looked good. And he was correct. Picard's Peanuts. Mmm, mmm, good.

Thank you so much Jonita, and Merry Christmas to you and your family!

Some Christmas birds check out my Holiday Swap goodies!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

CHALLENGE: 2nds Challenge 2011

This challenge is hosted by katy f at fewmorebages this year after theroyalreviews hosted last year. I liked keeping track last year of the seconds I've read, and I managed 20 last year. Plus, I do like to read series, and getting that second one done helps me really get into a series. Also, since I read over 50 new authors this year, there are plenty of options for a second read.

Guidelines for the challenge:

1. Anyone can join. You don't need a blog to participate.
2. There are four levels to choose from in this challenge:
  • Just a spoonful - Read 3 books that are 2nd in a series or the second time you've read the author.
  • A few more bites - Read 6 books that are 2nd in a series or the second time you've read the author.
  • A full plate - Read 12 books that are 2nd in a series or the second time you've read the author.
  • All you can eat - Read 20 books (or more) that are 2nd in a series or the second time you've read the author.
3. You can list your books in advance or just put them in a wrap up post. If you list them, feel free to change them as the mood takes you. Any genre counts.
4. You can join anytime between now and December 31, 2011. Don't start reading until January.

Some ideas:
Jeff Lindsay  - Dearly Devoted Dexter
Alan Bradley - The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag
Lisa Lutz - The Spellman's Revenge
Qiu Xioalong -
Stieg Larsson - The Girl Who Played With Fire
Peter Temple - The Broken Shore
Lori Lansens - The Wife's Tale
Emma Donaghue -
Georgette Heyer -
Deon Meyer -Trackers
Jasper Fforde's second book in the Chromatica series

The Books I Read:
1. My Most Excellent Year - Steve Kluger (Last Days of Summer)
2. Dearly Devoted Dexter - Jeff Lindsay (2nd in series)
3. Just in Case - Meg Rosoff (How I Live Now)
4. First Love - Joyce Carol Oates (Zombie)
5. The Night Wanderer - Drew Hayden Taylor (Motorcycles & Sweetgrass)
6. Roseanna - Maj Sjowall, Per Wahloo (The Man on the Balcony)
7. Prep - Curtis Sittenfeld (American Wife)
8. The Wife's Tale - Lori Lansens (The Girls)
9. The Curse of the Spellmans - Lisa Lutz (The Spellman Files)
10.Children of the Street - Kwei Quartey (The Wife of the Gods, 2nd in series)
11. The Likeness - Tana French (In the Woods)
12. What Janie Found - Caroline B Cooney (2nd in the Janie quartet books)
13. Trackers - Deon Meyer (Thirteen Hours)
14. Mothers and Sons - Colm Toibin (Brooklyn)
15. Year of Wonders - Geraldine Brooks (People of the Book)
16. The Adventuress - Audrey Niffenegger (The Time Traveller's Wife)
17. Pretty in Ink - Karen E Olson (2nd in Tattoo Shop Mystery series)
18. The Distant Hours - Kate Morton (The House at Riverton)
19. The Broken Shore - Peter Temple (Truth)
20. Wonderstruck - Brian Selznick (The Invention of Hugo Cabret)
21. The Reinvention of Love - Helen Humphreys (Coventry)
22. An Irish Country Village - Patrick Taylor (An Irish Country Doctor)
23. The Canterbury Trail - Angie Abdou (The Bone Cage)

Monday, December 13, 2010

BOOK: A Tiny Bit Marvellous by Dawn French

A Tiny Bit Marvellous by Dawn French, 322 pages

Typically British Challenge

Three members of the dysfunctional Battle family: child psychologist mother Mo, almost 18 year old cranky Dora, and 16 year old Peter, who prefers to go by Oscar as he is channeling Oscar Wilde, narrate the story. Husband is never named, but is the glue with which the family sticks together. Oscar is hilarious, and I never got tired of hearing his part of the story. A wonderful character who dreams of owning his own smoking jacket.

The main story revolves around the intern at Mo's office, Noel. Oscar develops a crush on Noel, who develops a crush on Mo. Dora narrates a large chunk of the story, and she is a very immature teenager, which a huge attitude and potty mouth, but since I spend my days in a high school, she is much more realistic than many would like to believe. And as selfish as she is, she is very much like Mo, and I'd say it's a family trait. Mo's mother Pamela appeared to be the voice of reason for all the characters, except Mo, who shouldn't be so surprised when her own daughter is so frustrated with her. Mo and Dora repeat practically the same complaints about their mothers.

The book flowed along very nicely with a bit of a story. All the strands came together nicely at the end. There were sections where I laughed out loud in spite of myself. Oscar trying to buy his smoking jacket and Mo realizing how she has aged, were two particularly funny sections. I am not familiar with Dawn French, but I understand she is a British comic actress; this is her first novel. I would certainly read another book by her (her memoir, Dear Fatty).

A very enjoyable book. ( )

 This completes the Typically British Challenge for me. Starting July 24th, I read:

1. The News Where You Are - Catherine O'Flynn
2. What Was Lost - Catherine O'Flynn
3. One Day - David Nicholls
4. Mini Shopaholic - Sophie Kinsella
5. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day - Winifred Watson
6. Cranford - Elizabeth Gaskell
7. Minding Frankie - Maeve Binchy
8. A Tiny Bit Marvellous - Dawn French

which makes me a Creamed Cracker. Awesome! I had already read 13 British books before I found this challenge. Thanks for hosting Book Chick City.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

CHALLENGE: Ireland Reading Challenge

Carrie is again hosting  the Ireland Reading Challenge. I'm so glad she decided to host again since I didn't participate last year, but I wanted to. I would love to read the Irish Country books by Patrick Taylor, plus a whole bunch others.

Details of the Challenge:
  1. Any books read for this challenge can also apply to other challenges you are working on.
  2. Re-reads are allowed.
  3. Any book written by an Irish author, set in Ireland, or involving Irish history or Irish characters, counts for the challenge – fiction, non-fiction, poetry, audiobooks, children’s books – all of these apply.
  4. You don’t have to list your books ahead of time – just have fun reading throughout the year.
  5. Choose your commitment level:
  • Shamrock level: 2 books
  • Luck o’ the Irish level: 4 books
  • Kiss the Blarney Stone level: 6 books
Everyone who fulfills their challenge level and writes at least one review is eligible for the giveaway prize at the end of the challenge: a copy of Tipperary by Frank Delaney.

Pool of books:
An Irish Country Doctor - Patrick Taylor
Sushi for Beginners - Marion Keyes
In the Woods - Tana French
Pomegranate Soup - Marsha Mehran
Edna O'Brien or Kate O'Brien
Colm Toibin - Mothers and Sons
Teacher Man - Frank McCourt

Books that get read:
1. In the Woods - Tana French
2. An Irish Country Doctor - Patrick Taylor
3. A Star Called Henry - Roddy Doyle
4. Pomegranate Soup - Marsha Mehran
5. The Likeness - Tana French
6. Mothers and Sons - Colm Toibin
7. An Irish Country Village - Patrick Taylor

BOOK: Hardboiled & Hard Luck by Banana Yoshimoto

Hardboiled & Hard Luck by Banana Yoshimoto, 149 pages

I'm still not quite sure what to make of Yoshimoto's writing. It's easy to read, and her female characters are well written, but they don't make me fall in love with the stories. This is similar to Kitchen, in that there are two novellas on a theme of moving on, getting past the past, as it were. 

Hardboiled had a real creepy vibe to me, and I kept expecting something terrible to happen. It never really did, but I still felt there was much more to the main character than was revealed. Too many people dying, and her sense of time was weird; I could never tell when things had happened, and I'm not sure she could either.
Hard Luck was the one I liked much better. A girl's sister is in a coma after a freak incident, and as the sister gradually falls farther and farther away from life, she deals with the impending death, along with her family. Nice look at grief and how different people deal differently.

Physically, I like this book and it felt nice in my hands and was very pretty. I'm going to keep it, and maybe read again to see if the stories need to read again to be appreciated more by me.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

CHALLENGE: Criminal Plots Challenge

Hosted by Jen from Jen's Book Thoughts, but it has its own blog here. Runs all year, and you read 6 books from the following categories:
  1. A book by a new to you author who's blurbed a book you enjoyed. So check out the cover of a crime fiction book you've enjoyed and see who blurbed that book and is also an author you've never read before.
  2. A book that has been made into a movie. It doesn't have to be a movie you've seen but it can be. The book, however, should be one you haven't read before. (Examples: MYSTIC RIVER, L.A. CONFIDENTIAL, LONDON BOULEVARD, HOSTAGE, etc.)
  3. A book with a protagonist opposite your own gender. So if you're female, the protagonist should be male; if you're male the protagonist should be female.
  4. A book set outside the country in which you live.
  5. A book that's the first in a new-to-you series.
  6. A book by a 2011 debut author.

My list of possibilities: 
1. The Redbreast by Jo Nesbo.
2. The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larson
3. Track of Sand by Andrea Camilleri. Inspector Montalbano is male
4. Broken Shore by Peter Temple (Australia)
5. The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R King
6. ?

What I read for the challenge:
1. Blurbed Author: Jo Nesbo - The Redbreast (Nesbo wrote the introduction on The Man on the Balcony by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo)
2. Made into a Movie: Case Histories - Kate Atkinson (I found out in retrospect that this was made into a movie, and it's going to be on PBS in October. I watched it and loved it.)
3. Opposite sex protagonist: The Track of Sand by Andrea Camilleri
4. From another country: The Broken Shore by Peter Temple

5. New to You Series: Death in la Fenice - Donna Leon
6. Debut author:

    Tuesday, December 7, 2010

    EVENT: Virtual Advent Tour 2010

    Welcome! Welcome! Be sure to visit other stops on the tour today:  Tami @ Just One More Thing.. and the lovely Bellezza @ Dolce Bellezza. Also, since you are visiting here on Prince Edward Island, head up the road and visit Colleen @ Lavender Lines.

    Christmas Events in PEI
    Downtown Charlottetown is decorated with trees on every corner, the streetlights in Old Charlottetown are wreathed and bowed. Plus, Wintertide has huge lighted displays around downtown that are lit up at night, snowflakes and sleighs with horses, the three wisemen. Wintertide lights stay up from the end of November until early January, Old Christmas.

    Many people leave their (real) trees up and decorated until Old Christmas, January 5th, the 12th Day of Christmas. One year, the pick up of discarded trees was scheduled for January 3rd, causing letters to the editor and complaints that it was too early for old traditions. Pick up of trees was delayed a week.

    In 2001, a shortage of sticky raisins worldwide was a near catastrophe for bakers of plum pudding and special raisin bread, an Island Christmas tradition. There were articles in the paper, and interviews in the stores on the television. (And to make it a real PEI story, the owner quoted in the article lived next door to me in residence in university. There is always a connection.)

    Province House, the birthplace of Canadian Confederation has an annual tree lighting ceremony to kick off the season. The stately building is beautiful both summer and winter, and is one of the lucky things we have in our small city and province.

    For a long time, we only had Sunday Shopping in the four weeks leading up to Christmas. In the last few years, starting on the Victoria Day weekend in May, Sunday shopping extended then until the last Sunday before Christmas. But then none until May! Last week, the legislature voted, in a tie-breaking vote, to have Sunday shopping all year. I think we are the last place in the world to allow Sunday shopping.

    Did you see a reindeer and an elf?
    Craft fairs are an annual tradition, and local fundraisers. Several schools host craft fairs almost every weekend in November where you can get anything you could possibly imagine - baked goods, homemade knitted goods, jewellery, tole painted objects, wreaths, photographs, toys, and books.

    Another catastrophe was averted this year. Early in November, the news said that bakers who provided baked goods at craft fairs should be baking in kitchens that had been certified as safe by government officials. Common sense prevailed; as as long as the food was low-risk, (no seafood or dairy) then bakers could bring their cookies and fudge to bake sales without fear of reprisal.

    My kids at Christmas Brunch last year
     Merry Christmas from Prince Edward Island, and me and my family.

    ( Please wait for the Intense debate comments - sometimes it takes a few seconds to load.)

    Sunday, December 5, 2010

    BOOK: Essex County Vol 1 &Vol 2 by Jeff Lemire

    Canada Reads 2011 novels and defenders have been announced. I've previously read one (The Birth House by Ami MacKay, summer 2008), and had already picked up Essex County by Jeff Lemire from the library before it was announced. I have Unless by Carol Shields from the library now and am 7th in line for Best Laid Plans by Terry Fallis. The last nominee, The Bone Cage by Angie Abdou is not at the library yet, but I expect them to get all the books in soon, as the Canada Reads are quite popular.

    Essex County Vol 1; Tales from the Farm by Jeff Lemire,

    Graphic Novel Challenge; 4th CBC Challenge; Canada Reads 2011 Nominee

    Lester is living on the farm with his uncle. He wants to be a superhero. He's dealing with life. Very cute and touching. I actually read this volume after I read volume 2, but I liked knowing who Jimmy LeBeuf was, and all his back story that is explained in Volume 2 as Jimmy befriends young Lester. Lemire included a comic book written by Lester, but was in fact credited at the beginning with a nine year old Lemire. It looked like an actual  child's drawing, so I wondered.
    Essex County Vol 2; Ghost Stories by Jeff Lemire, 125 pages

    Graphic Novel Challenge; 4th CBC Challenge; Canada Reads 2011 Nominee

    Such a great Canadian book! The country kids moving to the big city, the isolation of living in a city among so many people and yet being alone; plus the hockey. Does nearly every Canadian community have someone who played their one game in the NHL? Or someone who could have made the NHL, except. The second volume is much more involved than the first book, with the strained relationships between the brothers who played hockey. It covers a much longer time period and more involved plot.

    I never know how to describe the drawings. I am always impressed with how the authors of graphic novels are able to show so much of the characters and the story with their drawings, along with the written word. Lemire is no exception.

    I am looking forward to Volume 3, The County Nurse.

    Wednesday, December 1, 2010

    CHALLENGE: 2011 Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge

    Bev Hankins is trying her hand at hosting her first reading challenge, and it's for mystery readers.

    From her blog:
    Introducing: The 2011 Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge. A challenge for all you mystery lovers out there who already love mysteries from the years prior to 1960 and also anyone who's ever thought, "I should give Agatha Christie (Dorothy L Sayers...Sir Arthur Conan Doyle...etc) a try."

    *Challenge runs from January 1, 2011 to December 31, 2011. Sign up any time between now and November 30, 2011.

    *No matter what level you choose, please try at least two different vintage authors.

    *Some suggested authors include: Agatha Christie, Margery Allingham, Dorothy L Sayers, Earl Derr Biggers, Georgette Heyer, Edmund Crispin, Cyril Hare, Ellery Queen, Elizabeth Daly, Cyril Hare, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Ngaio Marsh, S. S. Van Dine, Philip MacDonald, Rex Stout, Phoebe Atwood Taylor, Josephine Bell, Josephine Tey, Frances & Richard Lockridge, Michael Innes and Stuart Palmer. (Please remember that some of these authors published after 1960 as well--so keep an eye on the original copyright date.)

    Head over to the blog for more information and to sign up. Here's the page for linking any reviews.

    Challenge Levels:

    In a Murderous Mood: 4-6 Books
    Get a Clue: 7-9 Books
    Hot on the Trail: 10-12 Books
    Capture the Criminal: 13-15 Books
    Take 'Em to Trial: 16+ Books

    The Golden Age Girls: Read 5-7 books from female authors from the vintage years
    Cherchez Le Homme: Read 5-7 books from male authors from the vintage years

    I thought I would try In a Murderous Mood, but when I looked at the authors I'd like to read ( Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh, Margery Allingham or Dorothy Sayer) it appears I'm reading The Golden Age Girls.I especially like the name of that level.

    The Golden Age Girls read
    1. Murder in Mesopotamia by Agatha Christie (pub in 1935)
    2. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie (pub in 1940)
    3. Hercule Poirot's Christmas by Agatha Christie (pub in 1938)
    4. The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding by Agatha Christie (pub in 1960)