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)

    Monday, November 29, 2010

    BOOK: Minding Frankie by Maeve Binchy

    Minding Frankie by Maeve Binchy, 421 pages

    Typically British Challenge

    All the old characters are back, with the focus on a new family. It's been so long since I've read some of the books (Tara Road, Scarlett Feather, Heart and Soul) that some of the characters were a little vague, but that didn't diminish my enjoyment. Binchy writes smoothly, developing her characters, but with lots of plot and events. If you haven't read any Maeve Binchy, I wouldn't start here. It might stand on its own, but there are plenty of references to old characters and having that back story adds so much depth to the story. I flew through the book, and am pleased to enjoy this latest of Binchy's Irish novels. The sense of community and family she portrays is warming to the heart and makes me want to visit Ireland.

    CHALLENGE: Orange January

    It's time to start thinking about an Orange January! Will it be books from 2010's list, or into the older titles? Check out the Orange Prize Project blog for more ideas and the Facebook group for ideas and possibly prizes!  Every January and July, fans of the Orange Prize read all they can in celebration. The actual requirement is only to read one book.

    Orange January Ideas:

    Books in my house:
    Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel (2006 short list)
    Small Island by Andrea Levy (2004 winner)
    26a by Diana Evans (2005 New Author winner)
    Case Histories by Kate Atkinson (2005 longlist)

    The Colour by Rose Tremain (2004 longlist)

    Books from the library:
    This is How, by M.J. Hyland 2010 longlist
    Secret Son, by Laila Lalami 2010 longlist
    The Long Song, by Andrea Levy 2010 longlist
    The Tenderness of Wolves, by Stef Penney 2007 longlist
    Unless, by Carol Shields 2003 shortlist

    And the books I read, with reviews linked:
    1. Unless, by Carol Shields
    2. Case Histories, by Kate Atkinson
    3. 26A - Diana Evans

    Sunday, November 28, 2010

    BOOK: Alone in the Crowd by Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza

    Alone in the Crowd by Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza, 225 pages

    Global Reading Challenge - South America

    Why booklovers will love Inspector Espinosa?
    The furniture in his apartment consists of stacks of books around the room, often stacked to the ceiling.
    He wishes his Chief of Police job in Rio de Janeiro consisted of two jobs - and  he wants the half that has the philosopher job description - just sitting and thinking about the facts and solving the crimes. Someone else can do the paper work and the meetings part of his job.

    Why I love the Inspector Espinosa mysteries?
    The Brazilian setting, in the Copacobana neighbourhood, just off Ipamena Beach, is exotic and real at the same time. I want to go!
    Police procedurals, with the occasional view of the perpatrator, keep me guessing and on the edge of my seat.
    Good team of detectives who work with Espinosa, with their own back stories, and great loyalty to their boss.
    Garcia-Roza writes a good local mystery, but also includes global themes, in this case, loneliness in a large city. How a person can live their life without contact, or very little, with other people. How you can live in the same neighbourhood and not know a person.

    Why I'm not happy after reading this mystery?
    My library has books 1, 2, and 7. I've read them all. I will have to request them to get the rest of the series.

    CHALLENGE: What's in a Name 4 Challenge

    This will be my fourth straight year with this challenge, originated by Annie, and now hosted by BethF. I've listed my potential choices, which can change at any moment. If I can find a book that works for another challenge too, that's even better!

    Between January 1 and December 31, 2011, read one book in each of the following categories:
    1. A book with a number in the title: 26A by Diana Evans (Orange January )
    2. A book with jewelry or a gem in the title: The Necklace by Cheryl Jarvis; Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones
    3. A book with a size in the title: The Little Book by Seldon Edwards
    4. A book with travel or movement in the title: Sea Escape by Lynne Griffith; Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David
    5. A book with evil(evil-like) in the title: The Devil's Whisper by Miyuke Miyabe (Global Mysteries)
    6. A book with a life stage in the title: Boy in Striped Pajamas; Little Children by Tom Perrotta

     See more info at the What's In a Name 4 blog.

    The Books Read: 6/6
    1. number: 26A - Diana Evans
    2. jewelry or gem: Charmed Life - Diana Wynne Jones
    3. size: The Little Book - Seldon Edwards
    4. travel or movement: Dash & Lily's Book of Dares - Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
    5. evil: The Devil's Whisper - Miyuke Miyabe
    6. life stage: Little Children - Tom Perrotta

    Saturday, November 27, 2010

    CHALLENGE: Global Reading Challenge

    The Global Reading Challenge is being hosted again at DJ's krimiblog. I plan to repeat my effort this year, following Kerri's lead, of only reading mysteries. I really like reading mysteries set in other countries, and after this year, I've got mystery series from all over the world to keep up with. It's not necessary to only read mysteries; that's just my personal goal.

    You can chose Easy (one from each continent), Medium (two from each continent) or Expert (3 from each continent).
    North America (incl Central America)
    South America
    The Seventh Continent (here you can either choose Antarctica or your own ´seventh´ setting, eg the sea, the space, a supernatural/paranormal world, history, the future – you name it).

    From your own continent: try to find a country, state or author that is new to you.

    I think I'm going for Expert, but I am a little concerned about the Seventh Continent; may have to get creative. Here's my list of potential reads. I am working more on continuing series from many countries.

    1. In the Company of Cheerful Ladies, Alexander McCall Smith, Botswana
    2. Children of the Street, Kwei Quartey, Ghana
    3. Trackers, Deon Meyer, South Africa

    North America
    1. Dearly Devoted Dexter, Jeff Lindsay, US Florida

    2. The Brutal Telling, Louise Penny, Canada
    3. Pretty in Ink, Karen E Olson, US Nevada

    1. Death in la Fenice, Donna Leon, Italy
    2. The Coffin Trail, Martin Edwards, England
    3. The Redbreast, Jo Nesbo, Norway

    1. The Case of the Missing Servant, Tarquin Hall, India
    2. The Devil's Whisper, Miyuke Miyabe, Japan
     A Case of Two Cities, Qiu Xiaolong, China

    South America
    1. Buried Strangers, Leighton Gage, Brazil
    2. Southwesterly Wind, Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza, Brazil
    3. A Window in Copacabana - Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza, Brazil

    1. Cocaine Blues, Kerry Greenwood, Australia
    2. The Broken Shore, Peter Temple, Australia
    New Zealand: 

    Seventh Continent (oldies - Agatha Christie books)
    1. Murder in Mesopotamia
    2. And Then There Were None
    3. Hercule Poirot's Christmas

    Read 19/21

    Monday, November 22, 2010

    BOOK: What is Stephen Harper Reading? by Yann Martel

    What is Stephen Harper Reading? by Yann Martel, 228 pages

    Bibliophilic Challenge; 4th CBC Challenge;

    Just as a hockey game can't be reduced to its score, so a work of art can't be reduced to a summary. p174

    Yann Martel started sending Prime Minister Stephen Harper a book, every two weeks, when Harper first came to power in April 2007. (Oh, dear, has he been PM that long? Sigh.)  Accompanying each book is a letter from Martel. Martel is hopeful to get a response sometime (other than the 2 replies from Harper's assistants.) This book is composed of the first two years of their 'book club', but it has been continuing, since Harper is still in power, albeit a minority government that never seems to collapse. (The letters are actually posted on a website, so it is possible to read the letters without the book, but the book allowed me to read on the couch.) It would be nice to think that Harper has read a few of the books Martel sent. I do believe in some ways Martel is rather optimistic, because he isn't picking some of the easiest books to read, but he explains his rationale for each book in the letter.He does try to make them all relatively short, since he acknowledges that Harper is a busy guy.

    Notice how I subtly show my bias towards our Canadian leader; Martel is just as subtle in many of his letters. It is interesting to watch the progression of his letters, as Martel begins to lament some decisions, generally cuts to the Arts, of the Harper government. Martel also includes some history of books, rationale behind the importance of reading a variety of books, and some critiques of books as well. I particularly like how he sent him one of Michael Ignatieff's books. Ignatieff is the Leader of the Opposition who spent many years abroad, teaching and writing. He even has a Booker shortlisted book. Wouldn't Harper want to read a book by Ignatieff to get an insight into his opponent?

    I've read eleven of the books sent, including Maus, Animal Farm, Mister Pip, The Cellist of Sarajevo and Gilead, sent because Obama had mentioned reading and enjoying the book. There are some I've wanted to read, like The Good Earth, and a few I'd like to read after this book's recommendation, The Gift and Oranges are Not the Only Fruit.There is even a group at Librarything trying to read all the books sent to Harper by Martel.

    Tuesday, November 16, 2010

    BLOGGING: It's Tuesday, Where Are You?

    It has been a while since I've asked where reading is taking you. It'd be great if everyone played along, and shared where they are in reading (and in real life if you like). How has everyone been?

    In reading, I am in the small English village of Cranford, where the ladies are keeping track of everything. (Cranford, Elizabeth Gaskell)
    I also am somewhere in the midwest, where a car has just run off the road, somewhere near Colorado. I'm a little disoriented right now, so we'll see where this book goes. (Bound, Antonya Nelson)

    Where is reading taking you today? Leave a comment, write a post, spread the word.

    Monday, November 15, 2010

    CHALLENGE: Young Adult Reading Challenge Update; Shiver Code Orange

    I recently completed the (lowest level possible) Young Adult Reading Challenge, and will post this wrap-up with a few final reviews of a couple of books. I read 7 of the books I had originally put on my pool of books in my sign-up post and someday, I'll get to the rest of them. Thanks to J Kaye for hosting, and I'm heading over to link my wrap up post at her site.

    Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater, 394 pages

    Young Adult Challenge

    I keep trying paranormal type books, since they are so popular, but I just don't see the what the fuss is about. This was okay, about werewolves, and I really liked the legend and background of how they live, and how they could conceivable live, but it doesn't make me want to keep reading.  I had high hopes for this one, as I was judging a book by its cover, as it is gorgeous, and the next two books in the series are similar, with different colours, and they really appeal to me visually. But alas, not enough to read the next books.

    It was an enjoyable enough read, with teenagers on the loose, fascinated with werewolves, and the characters were fine, just not my style.

    also reviewed: kristina at kristina's favorites;  bart at bart's bookshelf; suey at it's all about books; colleen at  lavenderlines; beth f at beth fish reads;

    Code Orange by Caroline B Cooney, 195 pages

    Young Adult Challenge; RIP V

    This was a wonderful little book I heard mentioned somewhere on the blogosphere, maybe in relation to the YA Dystopian challenge at Bart's, but whoever mentioned it, thank you. A super slacker student in a fancy New York private school is assigned a project on infectious disease. He reluctantly gets interested in small pox, and then accidentally inhales an old, dried up small pox he found in an extremely old medical text. The book takes off from there, as he tries to decide what to do, when doing much of anything really isn't his style. But is he infected with small pox? The idea of a small pox epidemic in post 9/11 New York City provides a scary background to tell this story, and forces our main character to do some serious thinking and research.  I was on the edge of my seat, (note I am counting it for the RIP V Challenge as well) and found the characters realistic and modern, with cellphones and internet a part of the teenagers' life.

    I gave it to my 13 year old son, who also enjoyed the book. I'll look for some more Caroline B Cooney books at the library. Code Orange was a great find.

    1. I Am Mogan La Fay - Nancy Springer 01/29
    2. Knife of Never Letting Go - Patrick Ness 02/21
    3. Paper Towns - John Green 04/04
    4. Zero - Diane Tullson 04/05
    5. Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List - Rachel Cohn and David Levithan 04/11
    6. The Ask and the Answer - Patrick Ness 06/14
    7. Feeling Sorry for Celia - Jaclyn Moriarty 08/22
    8. When You Reach Me - Rebecca Stead 08/26
    9. The Westing Game - Ellen Raskin 08/28
    10.Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins 09/06
    11. Code Orange - Caroline B Cooney 10/18
    12.Shiver - Maggie Stievfator 11/07

    Best book on this list: Paper Towns by John Green had the funniest road trip I ever read.  Other good reads were When You Reach Me and Code Orange. I read two of the Chaos Walking series, and even had the last one here, Monsters of Men, but couldn't get going in it. Maybe another time I'll get it from the library.

    Sunday, November 14, 2010

    BLOGGING: Christmas Events

    Hurry if you want to take part in the Book Blogger Holiday Swap- the sign-ups end today. Check out the details at the blog. I've participated the past two years and loved the experience. It's fun to buy for someone else, and just as much fun to receive, especially from another book lover.

    In other Christmas/Holiday events on the blogosphere, the Advent Tour is taking sign-ups as well. This is a great way to meet some new bloggers and learn about different holiday traditions. One of my favorite posts ever was Suey's video of the reading of the Christmas story, with a few rogue children and the mother who soldiers on, determinedly ignoring the chaos around her. Hilarious!

    I have two of these reindeers that I set out at Christmas. Gorgeous! I love the green ribbon around them. My date for the advent tour is Tuesday,  December 7th. Hope to see you then.

    BOOK: The Mind's Eye by Oliver Sacks

    The Mind's Eye by Oliver Sacks, 240 pages
    released Oct 26, 2010

    Science Book Challenge

    I cannot decide whether this is nonsense or profound truth - it is the sort of reef I end up on when I think about thinking. p 226

    Oh Mr Sacks, you sum up what happens to me all the time, and this book does get a person thinking. How do we see? How do we read? Is listening to a book reading? Is reading someone's lips hearing? Sacks delves into this world of perception and senses, providing case studies of some very unusual people.

    I liked how the people, for the most part, adapt to their situation. Losing, or gaining, a sense (or even just an aspect of a sense, like recognizing faces) causes the brain to adapt and fit the new experience into existing pathways of the brain. Much of the book is quite scientific, referencing studies, and since this isn't my area of expertise at all, I found it a bit deep at times. Being very familiar with the brain sections and its specialties would have helped; but not knowing didn't diminish my interest.

    Personally, the chapter on stereo vision was most interesting. I see only with one eye, my left eye is so weak, it never learned to see together with the right eye, a necessity for three dimensional vision. My left eye provides a bit of peripheral vision, but it's quite useless. (But cheaper, as I only need one contact.) So, this means I can't see 3D movies at all. I can, however, drive as I've always viewed the world in 2D, or flat and that is my experience. Just as perspective can be deduced in a picture, so too can I tell mostly where things are - near or far. The woman in the book who regained her stereo vision after 40 years without it, had the ability as a child. Her brain had the neural pathways to be 'awoken' so she could see a new way. Alas, I never will as I never had that capability in the first place.

    A large portion of the book is Dr Sacks personal journal as he undergoes a cancer in the eye which leaves him without his 3D vision. Combined with his own experience of not recognizing faces and he appears to be one of his own best patients.I liked when he related his patients problems to his own, but his ability to microanalyze things he saw astounded me. Perhaps that is why I am not a neurosurgeon or neurobiologist.

    Sacks has other books, similar I believe, that I would be interested in reading: His memoir Uncle Tungsten, along with Musicophilia, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, and An Anthropologist on Mars. He references these books throughout The Mind's Eye. Sacks is also the doctor, and wrote the book, that the movie Awakenings was based on. I loved that movie, and deNiro and Robin Williams in it.

    We, or maybe I, often believe that other people perceive the world much as we do. Reading this book has opened my eyes to experiences that I couldn't even imagine, like losing the ability to read, but still being able to write. Others certainly can't envision the flat world I live in. The complexity of the brain to adapt, adapt, adapt is inspiring and overwhelming. 

    Thursday, November 11, 2010


     [In Canada, we call in Remembrance Day]
    It is November 11th, known here in the U.S. as Veteran’s Day, formerly Armistice Day to remember the end of WWI but expanded to honor all veterans who have fought for their country, so …
    Do you read war stories? Fictional ones? Histories? 

    Suey posted a top 10 list of her favorite war stories, and as I commented on her post, I realized I had enough war stories to make a post of my own. I couldn't limit it to 10 either. I guess I mostly read fictional war stories set in real wars. I didn't include imaginary wars, like in the Chaos Walking series.


    1. Rilla of Ingleside by LM Montgomery
    More of a view of the Canadian homeland during the war, the Great War is a backdrop to the last of Anne's stories, as her children are living through it. One of my favorite in the series.
    2. Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear
    Not so much about the war, but England in the early 1930s is still full of characters dealing with the repercussions. Large flashbacks put the reader in the trenches in France.


    1. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
    For those who like their war stories told in a slightly lighter tone, but still dramatic and utterly charming. Has anyone not adored this book?
    2. Night Watch by Sarah Waters
    A backwards look at the lives of several people during the Blitz in London. Great characters and unique look at life in London.
    3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
    Lisel is the star, but Death narrates. Death was busy in Germany during the 1940s.
    4. Maus by Art Speigleman
    A graphic novel memoir by the son of a Jewish survivor from Germany.
    5. Stones From the River by Ursula Helgi
    One of the fist and perhaps best of Oprah picks. I loved this story of a little person surviving in Germany. Also showed what life was like in Germany for everyday citizens trying to survive as well.
    6. Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky
    The background of Nemirovsky adds to the drama of this story written during the German occupation of France. Nemirovsky died before the war ended, which makes the stories she wrote even more dramatic.
    7. Spies of the Balkans by Alan Furst
    For those who like thrillers, Furst sets this story in Greece, but helps Germans escape Germany throughout Europe. Furst writes many WW2 thrillers so this is just one of many of his.

     Civil Wars Around the World

    1. The Cellist of Sarajevo by Stephen Galloway (Yugoslavia)
    What is it like to live in an occupied state? 
    2. Small Wars by Sophie Jones (Cyprus)
    A British couple starts their married life on the occupied island of Cyprus. More of a study of a marriage and the small wars within it, even small wars in the world have large repercussions for their inhabitants.
    3. The Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah (Sierra Leone)
    Nonfiction account of a child soldier in Sierra Leone.
    4. Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Nigeria)
    The Biafran war and all the atrocities of war are woven within one family and how war tears so many people apart.

    Have you read any of these? Which are your favorite war stories? I feel like there are some books I've forgotten, especially about World War 1.

    Wednesday, November 3, 2010

    BOOK: Thirteen Hours by Deon Meyer

    Thirteen Hours by Deon Meyer, 408 pages

    RIP V; Global Reading Challenge: Africa

    This is another of the books I read about at Kerrie's Mysteries in Paradise during her write up about the nominees for the CWA International Dagger during the summer. Two of the nominated books (Hypothermia by Indridason and August Heat by Camilleri) are from two of my favorite mystery series. The Girl Who Played with Fire, second in that well known series, was also nominated. When I saw three very excellent books nominated, it certainly drew my attention to the other three books. I liked The Darkest Room earlier this month, but with Thirteen Hours, I have found a new author and series to follow. This was excellent!

    Inspector Bennie Griessel works in Cape Town, South Africa. When he is awaken early one morning to investigate a murder, he has no idea how crazy his day will become. The first murder is a young American tourist, and the police quickly discover that her friend is running, running and being chased by these murderers, a group of young men. Bennie has recently been assigned to mentor some young detectives, so he doesn't even get to run the investigation, just advise. Before they can get too far, Bennie is called to another murder, with another detective to mentor. The rest of the book follows real time, for the next thirteen hours.

    The plot is tight and fast, switching from both investigations, along with the girl who is being chased. This back and forth action keeps the pages turning. Meyer deftly juggles all the characters and action, and has written characters with many layers and motives. Bennie is celebrating six months sobriety and is hoping for the return of his family after losing them from his drinking. The mentor detectives have their own issues and strengths.

    Apparently this is the second novel in the series about Bennie, but I had no trouble following the story or characters. If anything, I want to read the first even more, Devil's Peak. It is most like a police procedural, a type of mystery I always enjoy. Modern South Africa, with its racial conflicts provides a fascinating setting for this great mystery series.

    Friday, October 29, 2010

    CHALLENGE: Gothic Reading Challenge

    Susan of Well-Mannered Frivolity is hosting her first challenge next year, the Gothic Reading Challenge , and has set up a new blog with lots of great information. Head on over to sign-up.

    This challenge runs from January 1 through December 31, 2011
    There are four levels of participation:
                                        A Little Madness - Read just 1 novel with Gothic elements.
    The Darkness Within - Read 5 novels with Gothic elements.
    A Maniacal Frenzy - Read 10 novels with Gothic elements.
    Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to Know - Read 20 novels with Gothic elements.

    I was going to just try for one book, but once I made pool of books from her Gothic books list and then checked out the library, I'll bet I can read at least 5 of these.

    Pool of Books
    Rebecca by Daphne duMaurier 
    Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
    The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson 
    The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
    The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende
    The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

    First Love: A Gothic Tale by Joyce Carol Oates (library, 87 pages)
    Waiting for Gertrude: a graveyard gothic by Bill Richardson (library, 184 pages)
    A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
    The Adventuress by Audrey Niffennager, (library, illustrated)
    The Night Wanderer: a native gothic tale by Drew Hayden Taylor (library, 215 pages)
    Oh My Goth! by Gena Showalter (school library)

    Other books I've added to the list:
    Affinity by Sarah Waters
    The Distant Hours by Kate Morton (rec'd by Caribousmom)
    something by Flannery O'Connor

    Books I Would Suggest for Others
    Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
    The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters
    Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
    Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen (my favorite Austen)
    A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro
    The Shining by Stephen King
    The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
    We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
    The Sister by Poppy Adams

    The Books I Actually Read:
    1. The House at Riverton - Kate Morton
    2. Waiting for Gertrude - Bill Richardson
    3. Affinity - Sarah Waters
    4. First Love - Joyce Carol Oates
    5. The Night Wanderer - Drew Hayden Taylor
    6. The Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl -
    7. A Spell of Winter - Helen Dunmore
    8. A Reliable Wife - Robert Goolrick
    9. The Adventuress - Audrey Niffenegger
    10. The Distant Hours - Kate Morton