Friday, December 6, 2013

EVENT: Advent Tour 2013

Welcome to An Adventure in Reading's part of the Virtual Advent Tour! I'm a little late today, but I did make it.
Be sure to visit the other posting today:   Ashley @ Closed the Cover

I've recently discovered audiobooks that I can listen to in my car on my iPhone. As Christmas is approaching, I've rediscovered an old author favorite who writes short, Christmas based novellas. The best part is the Victorian setting, with all the stuffy mores and antimaccassars (which always reminds me of The Big Comfy Couch and her Aunty Maccassar! gotta love jokes for adults in children's programming) 
Each book is only 3 to 4 hours long, with a little mystery.
Anne Perry is very well known for two of her mystery series, William Monk, and Thomas Pitt. Both are Victorian mysteries and I've read nearly all of both series, although I think there have been new Thomas Pitt books recently released, so I am behind on some.

1. A Christmas Journey
2. A Christmas Visitor
3. A Christmas Guest
4. A Christmas Secret
5. A Christmas Beginning
6. A Christmas Grace
7. A Christmas Promise
8. A Christmas Odyssey
9. A Christmas Homecoming
10. A Christmas Garland
11. A Christmas Hope: A Novel

So far this season I've read A Christmas Guest, which had a character from the Thomas Pitt series, his grandmother-in-law, a cranky old biddy, who recognizes some of her bad behaviour as she visits another family over Christmas. Perry analyzes moments to death (she thought she sensed a fraility or fear as he answered her question, but it happened so quickly she almost thought she imagined it, the tensing in his shoulders) but the mysteries are simple, with a small village, 'anything can happen' feel.They are getting me into the Christmas feeling everytime I drive in my car.

In 2013, I posted reviews of some of my favorite mystery series that happened to have books set at Christmas.
In 2011, I posted a 'recipe' for fruitcake that my grandmother had given me.
In 2010, I took a humorous look at some local events on Prince Edward Island.
In 2009, we played 'guess the carol'
In 2008, I played a game of 'guess the movie', and my favorite Christmas picture ever.
In 2007, it was the original 'guess the carol' game, with your vocabulary tested, and my whipped shortbread cookie recipe.

 Merry Christmas! Happy Holiday! I hope you all find a lovely book to read under the tree.

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

Sunday, November 17, 2013

UPDATE: The Week that Was, and October Reads

Since my last update:
I finished listening to A Christmas Guest by Anne Perry on audiobook. It was great, and I've already started listening to the next book in these stand-alone Christmas Victorian-set books. They are simple and short, and fans of Anne Perry would love them.

I also finished Blood Safari by Deon Meyer, a mystery set in South Africa. I am reading his backlist having discovered his recent books. This was the first book with Lemmer in it, and a book I"ve been meaning to read for a few years. It was a bit of a chunkster, with over 500 pages, so it feels good to get it read.

Although I have been trying to read my own books this year, I did order two books from my favorite series': Strange Shores by Arnaldur Indridason, and Treasure Hunt by Andrea Camilleri. They arrived this week. As soon as I finish re-reading The Book Thief for my real-life book club and the movie coming out, I'm diving into one of them.

Other than books and reading:
Report marks were due today, so some frantic marking has been going on. But I am done now, so can enjoy the evening getting classes ready for this week. My parents got moved, the girls were in a ringette tournament (played 3 games each) and we took down the trampoline and moved it up to the 'new' house. Another showing of the house tomorrow, which means cleaning tonight. 

Books Read in October
68. Her Fearful Symmetry - Audrey Niffenegger
Started very promising, creepy ghosts and twins abounding, London setting with Highgate Cemetery. But the young girls who moved to London were strange, with absolutely no coping or life skills. A terrible decision by adults set in motion the finale which I wasn't as impressed with. Selfish people.

69. The Woman Upstairs - Claire Messud (audiobook)
This one has a funny story with it. (For an excellent actual review, see Bellezza's review) I had this on my iPhone, and was cutting it close to finish before it was automatically deleted off my phone. Too close. With only a little over one hour to listen to, poof, gone. And it was so popular at the library, that I couldn't renew it, couldn't get a hard copy (30+ in line). Eventually I found that the CDs were only out with one person who thankfully returned it early so I could listen to the ending. It was one of those books that builds up the entire narrative to the shocking ending that happens on the last page or so. 

70. Nemesis - Jo Nesbo
The second book in the Harry Hole, Swedish detective book. He's broken, he's not a team player, but he inspires loyalty in some around him. Good series, and I'll continue.

What's new with you?

Monday, November 11, 2013

UPDATE: September reads

Since my last update:
Well, my last 'update' or post was the end of August. Yikes! My reading actually hasn't been that great. In September I read:

63. Mr Churchill's Secretary - Susan Elia MacNeal (audiobook)
Plucky American, with British background (secrets abound!) begins work in Churchill's office. Her smarts (math major at MIT) get her involved in espionage and multiple mysteries. I'll try another.

64. Death Angels - Ake Edwardson
Scandi-crime mystery set in Sweden. It was good? but so long ago now that details are fuzzy.

65. Transatlantic - Colum Mccann
Interesting book with several seemingly unconnected narratives that came together rather coolly in the end. Most were based on true events to some extent, but I don't imagine were so connected in real life.

66. The Savage Garden - Mark Mills
I read this one for my Book Club. It was an okay mystery, set in 1950s Italy, but there was a mystery from the 1700s as well. We were split on it - one loved it, one liked, but two of us were not as impressed. Could have been better use of the two mysteries - maybe a parallel telling? Plus, the use of the word Velcro took me right out of the story and to Wikipedia to check for an anachronism. It worked, but barely.

67. The Treatment - Mo Hayder (audiobook)
Oh, Jack Caffrey, I'm quite liking you. Also, the way the narrator said 'Jack' is quite stuck in my brain. Mo Hayder pushes the limits of my squeamishness, but Jack Caffrey is a wonderfully flawed hero. More please.

The best of September was definitely The Treatment.
I'll save October reads for next week's update.

Other than books and reading:
We are planning to sell our house and buy my parent's house (same neighbourhood, but larger and newer home) so have been oh so busy getting our house ready to sell (decluttering 18 years worth of living in this house) and helping my parents move. My mother broke her ankle in the middle of all this, so even more to do. Plus my own kids and their sports (softball, field hockey, ringette, volleyball were the fall sports) and working full time. Add an unhealthy interest in stupid Facebook games and I am actually amazed I even read as much as I did.

Chrisbookarama wrote a great post today about Commenting and Book Blogging. I'm guilty as well, and haven't even been blogging. Her post, as well as those who post these weekend update type of posts (suziqoregon and sueysays) have inspired me to at least try an update once a week. Hopefully, I'll be back next week. Good to see you all again.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

CHALLENGE: RIP (Reader's Imbibing Peril) VIII

Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings is hosting the RIP VIII for September and October, reading creepy and scary books. My favorite kind! I've participated almost every year and these are my favorite kinds of books.

Dark Fantasy

Peril the First:
Read four books, any length, that you feel fit (the very broad definitions) of R.I.P. literature. It could be King or Conan Doyle, Penny or Poe, Chandler or Collins, Lovecraft or Leroux…or anyone in between.

Books In My Pool I'm Looking At

Blood Safari by Deon Meyer
A Carrion Death by Michael Stanley
The Savage Garden by Mark Mills
An Incomplete Revenge by Jacqueline Winspear

leftover from last year
The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffennegger
The Reapers by John Connolly
Undone by Karin Slaughter

plus assorted ongoing mystery series by : Mo Hayder, maybe a new Indridason?,

Books I Read
1. Mr Churchill's Secretary - Susan Elia MacNeal (audiobook)
2. Death Angels - Ake Edwardson
3. The Savage Garden by Mark Mills
4.  The Treatment - Mo Hayder (audiobook)
5.  Her Fearful Symmetry - Audrey Niffennegger
6. Nemesis - Jo Nesbo

Monday, August 26, 2013

BOOKS: The Serpent's Dark Match of Truth by Franklin, Lindsay, Ross, and Winspear

Next in a series books...

The Serpent's Tale by Ariana Franklin, 443 pages
Book 2 of 4

Love this 12th century series about Adelia Aguilar, an Italian doctor who studies the dead. 'Trapped' in England by King Henry II, and with a settled life on the Fens, Adelia is drawn back into investigating Henry's mistress Rosamund's death. That leads her to some dealings with Eleanor of Aquitaine who is being set up. Royal intrigue with a strong women going against what is expected of them. Some great minor characters round out the good series.
Dexter in the Dark by Jeff Lindsay, 302 pages
Book 3 of 6

This Dexter novel felt a little different. It seemed a little slower overall, and more introspective. Dexter has lost his 'Dark Passenger' and it seemed like he lost a bit of his humor as well. The wedding is rolling along, and the future step-children are becoming creepier and creepier. There was more of a battle between the dark forces inside the serial killers.Hopefully the next book is more like the first couple. I'd like to read the books before I start to watch the shows.
Miss Julia Meets Her Match by Ann B Ross, (10 h 42 min)
Book 5 of 14

These novels, of a type of Southern life, can be hit or miss with me. They can be slow, and frustrating, but also simple and amusing. Cozy reads as it were. This was the first time I listened to Miss Julia, and it worked for me as a book I could listen to for small bits, and then leave for a while. In some ways like a Three's Company episode (why don't you just say what you mean, instead of trying to trick someone into believing things, or to avoid being embarrassed! arg!) but what I've noticed is that the books all build (slowly) to a grand finale that pays off for me, but it can be a slow process getting there.

Messenger of Truth by Jacqueline Winspear, (11 h 11 min)
Book 4 of 10

I loved listening to Maisie Dobbs on audiobook, and I was pleased with how Maisie is making some decisions about her future, and growing up a bit. Georgina Bassington-Hope asks Maisie to investigate the accidental death of her brother, Nick, and artist who fell to his death. Maisie follows her unique investigative approach and is exposed to the artistic lifestyle of the Bassington-Hopes. Meanwhile, her assistant Billy Beal is dealing with his own family troubles as the lower class deals with the troubled economic times of the early 1930s.

How strange was it that the only audiobooks my library had in both of these series' were the next ones I had to read? 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

BOOK: Night Street by Kristel Thornell

Night Street by  Kristel Thornell, 242 pages

Aussie Author Challenge

The imagined life of one of Australia's most intriguing artists. (from the back cover)

Clarice Beckett, 1887-1935, was an Australian painter of some reknown in her day, but who gained attention years after her death. She lived a solitary life devoted to her art, in defiance of what was expected of a young lady in her day.

 "[Thornell] attempted to 'look' at Beckett as she might have looked at a landscape, squinting to soften edges and reach beyond detail in the search for patterns of light and shade." author's note, p 241

Beckett studied under Meldrum, developing her style and learning ideas of painting. eventually becoming confident enough to have her own style. She preferred landscapes, and avoided portraits and flowers. 

Duncan Max Meldrum (3 December 1875 – 6 June 1955) was a Scottish born Australian painter. He is known as the founder of Australian Tonalism, a representational style of painting, as well as his portrait work, for which he won the Archibald Prize in 1939 and 1940. (wikipedia)

The novel manages to capture the paintings, and the life, of Beckett. Not much is actually known of Beckett, but portraying her life as a reflection of her paintings is inspired, especially as Thornell pulls it off. I waited until after I finished the book to look up her paintings and they match the book. The writing is wispy, blurred, but definite.

While this is not a book I would ever have picked up myself, I am glad that I read it. How did I end up with this little gem of a book? I won it as a prize for participating in the Canadian Book Challenge, hosted by John Mutford at the Book Mine Set. So, big thanks to John for hosting and organizing, and Goose Lane Editions publishers for donating the book.

Monday, July 29, 2013

BOOK: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, 477 pages

More character driven than her last book (Half a Yellow Sun), Americanah started strong, but faded for me a bit at the end of the 477 pages. The book follows Ifemelu and Obinze, from their teenage love affair, to their separate lives in the US and UK, to their return to Nigeria years later. I liked everything, especially the race and immigration experience in the US, and the blog entries written by Ifemelu, up to when they both returned to Nigeria.

I guess I preferred the race aspect of the story to the love story, which isn't how I usually roll. It didn't help that I didn’t like Obinze that much, even though Ifemelu kept describing him in glowing terms. She was the only one who really liked him. There was a good line at the end about how Ifemelu’s friends didn’t see all his wonderful qualities as she did. Isn't that always the way with boyfriends and friends?  I didn’t care if Ifemelu and Obinze got together at the end. I particularly liked the blog entries, and their experiences in US and UK more than the Nigeria part of their life.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

BOOK: Paris to Die For by Maxine Kenneth

Paris to Die For by Maxine Kenneth, 337 pages

Paris in July

In 1951, a young Jacqueline Bouvier doesn't want to settle down with the Social Register stock broker her mother wants. She's looking for some adventure, so when a family friend from the CIA offers her a mission (you have to just go with it!) she jets off to Paris to meet with a potential Russian defector. Jackie is a natural, at attracting men, and getting out of bad situations. She even manages to evade an assassin intent on killing her, many, many times! He never graduates to more than a knife, and seems to be the worst assassin in the world. But just go with it!

And that is what I had to do everytime some unbelievable event happened - just go with it. I don't think this book is meant to be a true adventure/spy novel - it's a lot more fun than that. Books can't be judged for what they are not meant to be, as I kept reminding myself throughout the book. Jackie seems as intent on falling in love with her assigned French, dashing agent of the CIA as completing her mission. Hey, why hasn't another agent been assigned, since everything went wrong the first night? No, don't think about that. Hey, Jackie fell from a second floor building, she shouldn't have survived, no, don't think about that. Hey, Jackie and Jacques break into a famous art gallery, and evade all the local police and security? No, don't think about that.(Plus, post 9-11, security is much different) Jackie runs into every famous person in Paris, before they become famous. No, don't think about that.

You don't read this book for the character development, or the realism. You read this for a fun look at a debutante life in 1951, flitting around Cold War Paris, getting in (and miraculously out of) scrape after scrape. It was a fun tour of Paris, and many of the famous name drops are done from a looking back point of view, especially with Jackie. (After watching Maria Callas sing opera, she imagines the fight Maria would put up if someone took her husband, heh)

Saturday, July 20, 2013

BOOK: Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin, 272 pages

This is a book I remember reading rave reviews of a few years ago, and it lived up to recommendations. Mississippi now, and in flashbacks to the 1970s, as two characters, one black and one white, become somewhat friends. Larry Ott, possibly the saddest character I've read in a while, was accused although never charged after a girl he dated went missing. Since she was never found, he lives under that suspicion. Silas Jones, the black friend, has grown into the town Constable.

The book is about race, and friendship, and loneliness. Actually quite timely as I was reading this as the Zimmerman trial ended. Being found not guilty (or never even charged) does not guarantee that you get to just continue your life. Societal punishment can be even worse than jail time. Really good novel, with a bit of a mystery that although telegraphed long before the end, was still heart-breaking.

also reviewed: wendy at caribousmom; bookfool at bookfoolery; rhapsody in books; gavin at page247; suziqoregon at whimpulsive; maggie at maggiereads;
(When I started looking up other reviews, I found nearly every bookblogger I know! I picked a few but left out a bunch because there were too many. I knew I had read tons of rave reviews a few years ago. Are you the other last person who hasn't read Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter?)

Friday, July 19, 2013

BOOK: Murder on Montparnasse by Kerry Greenwood

Murder on Montparnasse by Kerry Greenwood, 256 pages

Paris in July; Series Challenge (book 12 of 20)

Phyrne Fisher is my hero. She's a woman far ahead of her time. Granted, it's her money that allows her to do what she likes, but she still does it. Set in 1920s Melbourne, the effects of the first world war are still being felt. Because she was an ambulance driver in France, I think she knows life is fleeting, and thus does what ever she wants. Be a dame detective? check. Have a Chinese lover and invite his intended wife over for dinner? check. Take in abused girls and give them opportunities? check. Wear the most fashionable, scandalous outfits? check and check.

Most of the books in this series are set in Australia, but luckily for Paris in July, much of this book is a flashback to Phryne's (fry-knee) time in Paris after the war, when she was hanging with the art crowd.  Her buddies, Bert and Cec, met up with their army buddies in Paris for a crazy couple of days, and now, ten years later, someone is killing them off in Australia. They must have seen something, and Phryne is going to solve the case.

Phrne Fisher books are light, but with a noir feel, with dames that carry guns and aren't afraid to use them and snappy dialogue. Although set in the same time as Maisie Dobbs, they are really the exact opposites. I enjoy both, especially for the connections both have to the first world war and its effects, but where Maisie is methodical and introspective, Phryne flies along (sometimes in her plane!) and figures things out very quickly.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

BOOK: Agent Gates by Camaren Subhiyah and Kyle Hilton

Agent Gates and the Secret Adventures of Devonton Abbey by Camaren Subhiyah and Kyle Hilton, 130 pages

Are you a fan of Downton Abbey and all its glorious excesses? Are you in withdrawl after the last season in January on PBS and impatiently waiting for another season? (There will be more, right?) Then Agent Gates and the Secret Adventures of Devonton Abbey (a parody) is just the reading fix you might be needing.

It's a quick read, in graphic novel form. None of the names are quite the same - Gates for Bates, O'Malley for O'Brien, Mr Larson for Mr Carson, but the drawings match the actors in the roles perfectly so you know exactly who is who. The writing and characters are so perfectly done that I could hear the actors voices in my head exactly, even the minor characters.

The premise is that the British Secret Service (SIS) has Devonton Abbey as a headquarters outside London, with agents disguised as servants. Their job is to thwart attacks that may be dangerous to the Crown, and stop the impending war in 1914. Will the agents save Archduke Franz Ferdinand from assassination as he visits Devonton Abbey?

My favorite exaggeration of character was Lady Cynthia, based on Lady Sybil, forever taking up causes of the downtrodden, while continually downtrodding those around her, or for women's rights which amount to her rights to be a rich lady. Hilarious! Edith, here called Ethel was as pathetic and ignored as you would expect. However, I think the caricature of her on Jimmy Fallon's parody, Downton Sixbey, is even funnier.

It's a sign of a great show if it inspires parody, right?  If you get stuck browsing around youtube, another good one was the SNL 'preview'.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Top Ten Books I've Read So Far In 2013

I missed last week's topic, Top Ten Books I've Read So Far In 2013. Since this week is even closer to the half way point, I'm going to go with it now. To see other posts on this week's topic, Top Ten Most Intimidating Books (might be intimated by size, content, that everyone else loves it but you are sure you won't etc) , head over to here at The Broke and the Bookish.

Small Island by Andrea Levy (just after WW2 in London, should be called Queenie, my review)

Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin (historical mystery; female coroner;immediately bought the next book in the series;  my review)

Whirl Away by Russell Wangersky (short story collection; Canadian; my review)

Z: a novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler (fictional biography; just the thing to read after watching Gatsby to stay in the mood;  my review)

The Light Between Oceans by ML Stedman (1920s Australia; heart-breaking; my review)

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling (audiobook/comedy routine; funny, strong woman; my review)

Where'd You Go Bernadette? by Maria Semple (smart and funny; my mini review)

The Dance of the Seagull by Andrea Camilleri (14th in series; just as strong as ever; my review)

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson (must read everything author did not disappoint; my review)

I'd Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had by Tony Danza (non-fiction memoir of his time in a Philadelphia high school; my review)

Saturday, June 29, 2013

CHALLENGE: Paris in July 2013

It's almost time for Paris in July, 2013 edition. I've enjoyed dabbling in a few books each July since Karen at Bookbath and Tamara at Thyme for Tea started it.

During the month of July, read your book, eat some food, watch a movie. Something French.

The books I hope to read include:

Murder in Montparnasse by Kerry Greenwood.
It's a female detective series that I enjoy, starring Phryne Fisher, set in 1920s Australia. I'm going with the fact that the Eiffel Tower is on the cover that there will be some connection to Paris.

Paris to Die For by Maxine Kenneth
Looks like a fun, intrigue-based spy story, chick lit style. Young Jackie Bouvier (Kennedy Onassis) is recruited by the CIA. I added it to my library list after last year's challenge  so someone must have enjoyed it.

Madame Bovary goes on my list every year, although I can't see me getting it read at all. Similarly, I've got Madame de Stael on a account that I still haven't finished. Maybe this July!

It's not quite the same thing, but we are planning to go to Quebec the first week of August, staying in Quebec City one night, and then a week at Sherbrooke for the Canada Games. Go PEI Basketball!  It'll be the finale to Paris in July - my very own Quebec in August!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Books At The Top Of My Summer TBR List

Topic Today:  Top Ten Books At The Top Of My Summer TBR List 
Check out The Broke and the Bookish for more links and future TTB lists.

I love these TBR lists, and I've been making them to remind me of books I really want to read before I get distracted by other shiny new books. This is a good mix of new books, books I've bought, authors I like love, library books, and reading challenges. Looks like a great summer!

1. Blood Safari by Deon Meyer (I'm trying to read all Meyer's books)

2. Guilt by Association by Marcia Clark (supposed to be a great new mystery series)

3. Microserf by Douglas Coupland (for the Canadian Challenge)

4. The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton (more Morton!)

5. Americah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (great new fiction by great author, library)

6. Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld (more great new fiction by great author)

7. Packing for Mars by Mary Roach (a nonfiction)

8. The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin (school library book)

9. Paris to Die For by Maxine Kenneth (or something elso for Paris in July, library)

10. Lives of Girls and Women by Alice Munro (Canadian and Short Stories with a terrible cover)

Monday, June 17, 2013

LIST: the well read canadian

John at the Book Mine Set has made his list (inspired by other lists) of the books that should be read to be a well read Canadian. Or to be Canadian well-read. I guess it goes either way. I've read 37 which seems alright, but wouldn't be a passing grade. How do you do? It's a ready made list for the Canadian Book Challenge if you want to join.

1. Lucy Maud Montgomery- Anne of Green Gables
2. John Vaillant- The Tiger
3. Modecai Richler- Barney's Version
4. Rohinton Mistry- A Fine Balance
5. Miriam Toews- A Complicated Kindness
7. Susanna Moodie- Roughing it in the Bush
8. Wayne Johnston- The Colony of Unrequited Dreams
9. James Houston- White Dawn
10. Michael Ondaatje- In the Skin of a Lion

11. Robert Munsch- The Paperbag Princess
12. Christian Bok- Eunoia
13. Pierre Berton- the Last Spike
14. Margaret Laurence- Stone Angel
15. Seth- It's A Good Life If You Don't Weaken
16. Ken Dryden- The Game
17. Farley Mowat- Never Cry Wolf
18. Carol Shields- The Stone Diaries
19. M. G. Vassanji- the In-Between World of Vikram Lall
20. Michel Tremblay- The Fat Woman Next Door is Pregnant

21. Elizabeth Hay- Late Nights on Air
22. Sheila Watson- the Double Hook
23. Robertson Davies- Fifth Business
24. Richard Van Camp- Lesser Blessed
25. Ann-Marie MacDonald- Fall on Your Knees
26. Kit Pearson- The Sky is Falling
27. Kenneth Oppel- Silverwing
28. Margaret Atwood- The Handmaid's Tale
29. Marshall McLuhan- Understanding Media
30. Alistair MacLeod- No Great Mischief

31. Alice Munro- The Love of a Good Woman
32. Guy Vanderhaeghe- The Last Crossing
33. Emma Donoghue- Room
34. Guy Gavriel Kay- The Summer Tree
35. Douglas Coupland- Generation X
36. Tomson Highway- The Rez Sisters
37. Leonard Cohen- Beautiful Losers
38. Phoebe Gilman- Something From Nothing (I read Jillian Jiggs and The Balloon Tree)
39. The Complete Poems of Robert W. Service
40. David Adams Richards- Mercy Among the Children

41. Joseph Boyden- Three Day Road (read Through Black Spruce)
42. Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki- Skim
43. Ivan Coyote- Bow Grip
44. Naomi Klein- No Logo
45. Will Ferguson- Why I Hate Canadians
46. Lisa Moore- February
47. Mary Watson- Crow Lake
48. Alan Bradley- The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
49. Cory Doctorow- Little Brother
50. P.K. Page- Planet Earth: Poems selected and new

51. Lawrence Hill- The Book of Negroes
52. Timothy Findley- The Wars
53. Margaret Atwood- Alias Grace
54. Jane Urquhart- The Stone Carvers
55. Mavis Gallant- From the Fifteenth District
56. Hugh MacLennan- Barometer Rising
57. Joy Kogawa- Obasan
58. Wayson Choy- Jade Peony
59. Chester Brown- Louis Riel
60. Yann Martel- Life of Pi

61. Gabrielle Roy- The Tin Flute
62. W.P. Kinsella- Shoeless Joe  (pretty sure I read this years ago)
63. Elizabeth Smart- By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept
64. Thomas King- Green Grass, Running Water
65. Sara Gruen- Water for Elephants
66. William Gibson- Neuromancer
67. Margaret Laurence- The Diviners  (I read The Stone Angel)
68. Marie-Claire Blais- A Season in the Life of Emmanuel
69. Brian Moore- The Luck of Ginger Coffey
70. Ethel Wilson- Swamp Angel

71. Stephen Leacock- Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town
72. W.O. Mitchell- Who Has Seen the Wind?
73. Robert Sawyer- Flashforward
74. Roch Carrier- The Hockey Sweater
75. Eric Walters- Camp X
76. Bryan Lee O'Malley- Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life
77. Jeff Lemire- Essex County
78. Hubert Aquin- Next Episode
79. David Bergen- The Time in Between
80. George Elliott Clarke- Wylah Falls

81. Lynn Coady- Saints of Big Harbour
82. Michael Crummey- Galore
83. Esi Edugyan- Halfblood Blues
84. Rawi Hage- De Niro's Game
85. Bernice Morgan- Random Passage
86. Peter C. Newman- The Canadian Establishment
87. bpNichol- The Martyrology
88. Louise Penny- Still Life
89. Paul Quarrington- Whale Music  (read King Leary)
90. Sinclair Ross- As For Me and My House

91. Nalo Hopkinson- Brown Girl in the Ring
92. Vincent Lam- Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures
93. Dennis Lee- Alligator Pie
94. John McCrae- "In Flanders' Fields"
95. Zoe Whittal- Bottle Rocket Hearts
96. Andrew Davidson- The Gargoyle
97. Al Purdy- Rooms for Rent in the Outer Planets
98. Pierre Berton- The Arctic Grail
99. Stephen Galloway- The Cellist of Sarajevo
100. Lynn Johnston- Something Old, Something New

Friday, June 14, 2013

BOOK: Children of the Jacaranda Tree by Sarah Delijani

Children of the Jacaranda Tree by Sarah Delijani, 280 pages

review book from Simon & Schuster Canada

I watched Jon Stewart's last show before his hiatus from The Daily Show. He showed a clip* of Jason Jones in Iran in 2009, during the revolution and protests before the 'democratic' elections. One of the reporters they talked to was subsequently arrested. Stewart and the show had become friends, and after his eventual release, and book writing, Stewart decided to make a movie based on the events. That's what his hiatus is for, and it is also the subject of this book, sort of.

The revolution and protests of 2009 mirrored the revolution and crack down that happened in the 1980s. Starting in Evin Prison in 1983, a child is born to a prisoner. Delijani immersed the reader in the scene - the fear, the confusion, the horror. Several stories are followed in the 1980s, from connected young people who have been imprisoned, and their young children who are looked after by other family members. Some of the prisoners survive, some don't. Some left Iran, some stayed. Twenty odd years later, the children are grown, and living their own revolution, and also the effects of having parents who were in prison for the same revolution.

It was a beautiful book, and reminds you that an 'axis of evil' represents a government and its leaders, not the people. Iran had been a well educated, vibrant country with women who had vital roles in society. Then, bam. A totalitarian government, fundamentalist religiously based changed all that. The people are still fighting, still rebelling as best as they can. The fact that a new generation who grew up under Khomeni still turned out in numbers to protest showed that the brainwashing of a generation did not take.

It's a book that brings history, and modern events to life. As I read, I enjoyed the story and the people, but at all times, recognized that as much as it is a novel, it is also what has really happened to real people.

In the author’s own words, “Children of the Jacaranda Tree is an attempt not only to keep alive the memory of my uncle and all those who were murdered in that blood-soaked summer, but also to shed light on this dark moment in Iranian history, on its tales of violence, prison and death, which have remained untold for so long. To give voice not only to the victims of this atrocity, but also to the ordeal of their families and their children, who have had to live with their unspoken grief buried inside them year after year, decade after decade.”

Other books to read:  Persepolis 1 and 2  by Marjane Satrapi; Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi; 1982 by Jian Ghomeshi (as a book by one of the Iranian children who left Iran before the revolution)

(*Behind the Veil: Persians of Interest, Minarets of Menace, Ayatollah You So these are links to the Comedy Channel, the Canadian site. They should also be on Comedy Central. Don't judge! I get my news from The Daily Show)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

BOOK: Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler

Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler, 375 pages

It's all the rage to write a fictional autobiography from the perspective of a famous man's wife. (The Paris Wife - Ernest Hemingway's first wife; The Aviator's Wife - Charles Lindbergh's wife; even vaguely American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld from a few years ago.) As long as they're as good as the ones I've read so far, I say keep 'em coming. Note to self - find The Aviator's Wife.

I loved Zelda! It was told from her perspective, from how the author interpreted events. We zip from the Southern US to New York, flapper life, the famous time in Paris, and the eventual destruction of some lives. Sure, Zelda probably had bipolar disorder, but much like many women in the 1930s and 40s who were institutionalized, it was that they weren't towing the male line. Imagine wanting to create in her own right and name and not just as Scott's wife? I thought it was interesting that in the author's notes at the end, she mentions how much of the mythology of Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald is based on what Ernest Hemingway wrote about them in The Moveable Feast, and he certainly wasn't a Zelda fan.

also reviewed: bookfool at bookfoolery (the review that inspired me to request from the library. Thanks Nancy!)

Saturday, June 8, 2013

CHALLENGE: 7th Annual Canadian Book Challenge

John Mutford at The Book Mine Set is once again (seventh time!) hosting The Canadian Book Challenge. It's easy - just read books by Canadians and about Canada. Some people read by themes (provinces, authors, kids, mysteries) but I just read the ones I want. The only rule is that reviews must be written and posted. (I don't get all mine reviewed, and then they don't count in my totals :{

John met Douglas Coupland! Holy moly that's exciting. I think I will
have to read a Coupland this challenge to commemorate this. I adored Hey Nostradamus! and Eleanor Rigby and All Families are Psychotic and Generation A. Plus, the Canadian Souvenir books, and the Terry Fox book. I want to read JPod, Microserfs, Miss Wyoming, or Girlfriend in a Coma.

Head to The Book Mine Set to get more details and to sign up.

Pool of Books (left over from last year or the year before)
Microserfs by Douglas Coupland
Diamond Dreams by Stephen Brunt
Getting Over Edgar by Joan Barfoot
The Age of Longing by Richard B Wright
The Republic of Love by Carol Shields
 Lives of Girls and Women by Alice Munro
 The Fire-Dwellers by Margaret Laurence
 Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel
 In the Skin of the Lion by Michael Ondaatje

Ideas/books since the last challenge
Teaching by Gerry Dee
The Reluctant Detective by Martin Finley
The Last Crossing by Guy Vanderhaeghe
Our Lady of the Lost and Found
Inger Ash Wolfe series

Books I Actually Read:

1.  Indian Horse - Richard Wagamese
2.  The Woman Upstairs - Claire Messud
3.  Cockroach - Rawi Hage
4.  How the Light Gets In - Louise Penny
5. Dead in Their Vaulted Arches - Alan Bradley
6. The Bear - Claire Cameron
7. An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth - Chris Hadfield
8. The Penelopiad - Margaret Atwood
9. MaddAddam - Margaret Atwood
10. Highly Inappropriate Tales for Young People - Douglas Coupland
11. The Silent Wife - ASA Harrison

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

BOOK: Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver, 436 pages

Women's Prize for Fiction (formerly Orange Prize) shortlist 2013

 Flight Behavior, State of Wonder, Intuition: a trifecta of Orange nominated, well written, science based books. Something also about their readability - not character driven, not particularly plot driven, but characters grow and change, and there is a page-turning aspect to the plot - what will happen next? I didn't loove any of the three, and yet, I quite enjoyed reading each of them, and found them very engaging.

Kingsolver (of The Poisonwood Bible fame) writes this one closer to home - the mountains of Appalacia, and her environmental concerns. The last Kingsolver I read was Animal, Vegetable, Mineral, her non-fiction account of living strictly off her own land, self-sufficiently.

Plot - Monach butterflies appear on a Tennessee hill destined for clear-cutting, which would provide some much needed money. Dellarobia, the married at 17, stay at home mother of two, has been feeling stifled, and becomes involved in the butterflies when the scientists come to study them. The book is maninly Dellarobia, and her growth and self-examination. You cheer for Dellarobia as you read, hoping for her to find what she needs in her life, to stretch her intellect, and reach her potential.

Best part - a guy who comes to hand out leaflets (the mountain becomes quite a magnet for all types of protesters) for ways to lower a person's carbon footprint. As he explains all the tips to Dellarobia, the conceit of the rich and middle-class who need these tips to assail their guilt at the damage to the environment becomes laughable.
ex) take tupperware to restaurants to take home your left-overs (Dellarobia hasn't been to a restaurant in two years)
- carry a nalgene bottle instead of buying bottled water (Dellarobia would never buy water, too poor)
- reduce intake of red meat (Dellarobia is trying to increase her family's eating of red meat instead of KD, and she doesn't have a freezer)
- try to buy reused items (Dellarobia laughed at this one - she has no new items of clothes)
- switch to socially responsible stocks and investments
- make sure computers get recycled (Dellarobia doesn't have a computer - guy looks shocked)
he ends with - fly less. Less? she says.