Friday, January 24, 2014

CHALLENGE: What's in a Name? 2014

I've been cutting back on the blogging, and never really 'signed up' for new challenges for 2014. I'm still reading lots (not quite as much) but my theory on challenge burn-out was as much about organizing and keeping track of everything, as it was about finishing. Everyone reaches a point where they can't or don't want to keep track. Facebook games have distracted me while on the computer, for example. I also find myself hanging out at Librarything a little more, socializing in the groups there.

However, some traditions die hard, and What's in a Name, and a few other challenges can't be missed. I almost did miss this one, but I saw on Literary Feline's blog that she had signed up for this one, and it seemed like a great idea. Go check it out.

~ A reference to time in the title 
*Diamond Dreams: 20 Years of Blue Jays Baseball - Stephen Brunt

~ A position of royalty in the title
 2. Princess Elizabeth's Spy by Susan Elia MacNeal
*Empress Orchid by Anchee Min

~ A number written in letters in the title
1. Ready Player One - Ernest Cline (Feb)
6. Tenth of December - George Saunders (Mar)
*Just One Look by Harlan Coben

~ A forename or names in the title
3. Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy
*Citizen Vince by Jess Walter

~ A type or element of weather in the title
*Thunderstruck by Erik Larson
The Snow Child by Ivey Eowyn

*own the book

Sunday, January 19, 2014

UPDATE: Sunday Update

Books and Reading:
I finished The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls. It is amazing how kids can survive and thrive despite their parents. The author recounts severe neglect and abuse with a detached eye, with no judgement, as she really knew nothing else. It will be an  interesting discussion at book club next week!

I got Cockroach on one week loan from the library. It's is very popular right now as it is a Canada Reads 2014 selection. So far it is okay. An immigrant from an unknown middle east country to Montreal is struggling after a suicide attempt. I like his interactions with other people, including his court appointed psychologist, but when he is on his own, and descending into madness via stream of consciousness, I find it more difficult to read. Probably won't get done by Tuesday, but at 25 cents a day, I'll live with the overdue fines.

My audiobook is grabbing my attention much more right now. How the Light Gets In by Louse Penny, read by Ralph Cosham is over 13 hours, but I'm over half way through and completely caught up in the suspense. Looks like I might get on the treadmill quite a bit this week!

Before I got Cockroach, I had started The Long Song by Andrea Levy but didn't get very far. I'll get back to it after Cockroach. I had a bunch of other books I wanted to read in January (Mad About the Boy, Incomplete Revenge, S. ) but next week starts final exams, so things will get busy.

Television Shows:
I got sucked into The Bachelor* the first week, and as football is no longer on Monday nights, I can pick the channel. Juan Pablo and the crazy girls provides much amusement. Downton Abbey is started up again, and while not quite the show it started as, still provides a great history lesson, and beautiful scenery. It's also awards season, and the Golden Globes kicked off the season. Tina and Amy really rock, but if they decided to ask Robert Downey Jr to host, I would definitely tune in. As someone on twitter commented, he must have a mirror in the attic cause dude is not aging badly. It must be nearly time for Survivor and The Amazing Race to get started. 

Not the same view in winter: I was fogged in crossing the bridge
Other News:
More basketball this week-end, but it was a great little one night get-away. Jack's team was playing two and a half hours away, across the Confederation Bridge, so close, but far enough to spend the night. I headed out after last class and listened to my audiobook by myself in the car. Blissful.  Friday night, the boys played a great game that came down to the last few seconds, which clinched first place in their division. The second game was much easier. This set up a semi-final Saturday morning that they were also able to breeze through. The hope was for a rematch with a team that had beaten them before Christmas, (one of only 4 losses this year for the team). However, the other semi-final was a bit of an upset, so instead, they played the first team from this tournament in the final. It was a back and forth re-match game that went to over-time, but the Raiders took control, played perfectly, and outscored the other team 16-5 in overtime. Fourth tournament win of the season!

*don't judge!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

CHALLENGE: Series Goals 2014

Let's try this one again! This is mostly so I can easily find the next book in the series that I want to read, and to be reminded of series that I've lost track of.
Thanks to SuziQoregon at Whimpulsive for the inspiration, this was my most successful challenge of the last two years. I got organized, and read a ton (or 20) of books, and got back to my mysteries. I got a good number of series up to date, found a few new ones, and rediscovered a few older series that I'd forgotten. So, once again!

The Ones I got up to date in 2013. Will there be new books in my favorite series in 2014? 

Darko Dawson by Kwei Quartey
    Murder at Cape Three Points (March 18,2014)
The Dublin Murder Squad by Tana French
   The Secret Place (Sept 2014)
The Number One Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
The Handsome Man's Deluxe Cafe (Oct 14)
Vish Puri by Tarquin Hall

Detective Erlendur by Arnaldur Indridason
 Strange Shores (read in Jan 14)
 Inspector Armand Gamauche by Louise Penny
     How the Light Gets In (audiobook, Jan 14)
     The Long Way Home (audiobook, Oct 14)
Flavia de Luce by Alan Bradley
     Dead in their Vaulted Arches (read in  Feb 14)
As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust (March 15, 2014)
Inspector Montalbano by Andrea Camilleri
   Angelica's Smile (June 2014)
Game of Mirrors (April 2015)
Maggie Hope  by Susan Elia MacNeal
The Prime Minister's Secret Agent (July 2014)

The Ones I Had on the list in 2013, read a few, but didn't finish:

The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz
 6. The Last Word

 Harry Bosch by Michael Connelly
The Last Coyote
Trunk Music
Angels Flight
A Darkness More Than Night
City of Bones
Lost Light

 Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear
An Incomplete Revenge
Among the Mad
The Mapping of Love and Death ( audiobook)
A Lesson in Secrets (audiobook)
Elegy for Eddie
Leaving Everything Most Loved

Harry Hole by Jo Nesbo
The Devil's Star
The Redeemer
The Snowman
The Leopard
Phantom (playaway library)

An Irish Country Series by Patrick Taylor
An Irish Country Girl (audiobook)
An Irish Country Courtship (audiobook Halifax)
A Dublin Student Doctor
An Irish Country Wedding
Fingal O'Reilly, Irish Doctor

 Dexter by Jeff Lindsay
4. Dexter by Design
5. Dexter is Delicious
6. Double Dexter
7. Dexter's Final Cut

The Ones Where I Started New in 2013

Maggie Hope series by Susan Elia MacNeal
Mr Churchill's Secretary (listened to in 2013)
Princess Elizabeth's Spy ( audiobook)
Her Majesty's Hope (audiobook)
The Prime Minister's Secret Agent (audiobook)

Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin (Diana Norman)
Grave Goods (audiobook)
A Murderous Procession  (playaway library)

Rachel Knight by Marcia Clark
Guilt by Degrees
Killer Ambition

Jack Caffery by Mo Hayder (rec'd by suziQoregon)
Ritual (2008)
Skin (2009)
Gone (2010)

 The Ones Where I thought I'd read in 2013 and then didn't: 

Martin Beck Crime series by Per Wahloo and Maj Sjowall
6. Murder at the Savoy
7.The Abominable Man
8. The Locked Room
9. Cop Killer
10. The Terrorists

Inspector Espinosa by Luis Alfredo Garcia-Roza
Only one of these that I have left to read may be available at my library.

Commissario Brunetta by Donna Leon
2. Death in a Strange Country
3. Dressed for Death
5. Death in High Water

Matthew Shardlake by CJ Sansom
Dissolution (read in 2012)
Dark Fire

Hazel Micallef - Inger Ash Wolfe
The Calling (read in 2012)
The Taken
A Door in the River

Mrs Pollifax - Dorothy Gilman

The ones I want to start reading in 2014: 

Divergent by Veronica Roth
Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen
Her Royal Spyness
A Royal Pain
Royal Flush
Royal Blood
Naughty in Nice
The Twelve Clues of Christmas
Heirs and Graces
Queen of Hearts
A Royal Threesome

Sunday, January 12, 2014

UPDATE: Sunday Salon

Not really a Sunday Salon, but it's a weekly update of sorts.

Reading/Books: I finished listening to Last Night at the Lobster by Stewart O'Nan, a book I've always wanted to read. It was only 4 hours or so, and it got me inspired to walk on the treadmill at school at the end of the day twice this week. A wonderful side benefit of working at a high school is the fitness room and library that are available. Plus all those teenagers to keep you young-ish. Or feeling very old some days - it goes back and forth!
I have been reading The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, a memoir that I've only heard good things about. It's very readable, but holy cow! such a terrible childhood. It reminds you that everyone has different life experiences and philosophies. This is for my book club and we meet the end of January. I'll have no trouble getting this finished. I also have a Canada Reads 2014 book waiting for me at the library. Cockroach by Ragi Hawe, and I'm looking forward to it. I loved his DeNiro's Game a few years ago.

Other Events: This completed the busiest week-end we will probably have all year! A ringette tournament for both girls, and a school-based basketball tournament for our son. So, that made, since Wednesday: 5 basketball games for son, 7 ringette games for the girls, Rachel refereed (for the first time!) in 6 games, Jack worked the scorer's table for 2 games, husband worked at 3 other ringette games, and a shift on the basketball canteen. I was a parent/teacher volunteer at the basketball tournament, so spend most 'extra' time there supervising and helping out. Plus, we had 3 showings of our house that we are trying to sell!

Luckily, both venues are only a kilometer apart, and there were hospitality rooms at both places. The rule was - eat where you can, whenever you can! It was crazy busy, but lots of fun, with much socializing and visiting with parents, and great games to watch. It was successful as well - Jack's team won the tournament and he was named MVP of the tourney. The girls had some great individual games - Rachel's team, the Fishermen (coach's last name is Fisher!) went 2-0-1 and just missed the cross-overs with goal differentials. She also made it through a penalty-laden, chippy game without a penalty. That was good for her! Jamie's team, the Fast and Furious, went 1-3 against some really tough competition.

Whew! It was worse thinking about all that had to happen, and keeping ourselves organized and getting the right people to the right places. Both events are such fun, with great people, and sports is really where we do most of our socializing with other parents who have become friends. Plus, watching the kids compete is a lot of fun. In many ways, having both on the same week-end is good, as it just makes for a crazy busy time instead of having two week-ends like that.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

CHALLENGE: Long Awaited Reads Month

Nymeth and Iris are hosting a Long-Awaited Reads Month for January 2014. It's quite perfect, because I often have books in my head that I'm saving for January to read - to start the year off right. I didn't post last year which books I had Long-Awaited, but I'm starting to read them now.

First up, Strange Shores by Arnaldur Indridason.  How is this a Long-Awaited Read, since it was only released in September 2013? I'm really impatient and can only wait a few months? partially. I bought it in November, and held off reading it until January once I realized it was the last book in the series. Although it was only recently released, I've been waiting to read this book for the last two editions of the series, Outrage and Black Skies. At the end of the previous book, Hypothermia, Erlendur left for one of his treks to the east of Iceland where he grew up. It is also where his younger brother disappeared in a blizzard and was never found. Outrage and Black Skies occured while Erlendur was away. Each of his partners, Sigurdur Oli and Elinborg got a book focused on them. Each time I read one of those books, I was waiting for the conclusion to Erlendur's adventure, over two years.

It was a fitting ending to the Reykjivik Murder Mysteries, a wonderful, bleak series that makes a person want to visit Iceland.

Other Long-Awaited Reads I Might Get To: 

Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy - also a recent acquisition but long waited in terms of series and last book
Incomplete Revenge by Jacqueline Winspear. The next book in the Maisie Dobbs series
The Long Song by Andrea Levy. I read Small Island last January and loved it, so let's try another Levy to start the year.
Cockroach by Rawi Hage. Loved, loved DeNiro's Game when I read it in 2009 and always meant to read another book by Hage. Now Cockroach is a Canada Reads 2014 book, and I got in early on the list at the library so expect to read it in January.

Really, nearly anything I read in January will be long-awaited.

Thursday, January 2, 2014


Happy New Year, everyone! Apparently the scheduler didn’t like any of the posts I had ready for the month of December, so we’ll just have to start fresh for the new year.
Although–it’s always good to look back so you know where you’ve been, so the first question for the year is an oldie but a goodie:
“What were your favorite books last year?”

In no particular order, these were my highest rated books of the year. Most were reviewed at some point on my blog.

Small Island by Andrea Levy  Best book with a bad title.

The Book Thief by Markus Zuzak - best re-read. It was my only re-read, but it was still an excellent book.

Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin Best historical murder mystery

Whirl Away by Russell Wangersky Best book of short stories

Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler  Best retelling of a familiar story from the wife's point of view.

The Dance of the Seagull by Andrea Camilleri Best audiobook, which gave a new outlook on an old favorite series.

The Light Between the Oceans by ML Stedman  Best historical fiction, and tear-jerker. I bawled during this one.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling Funniest person. I listened to Kaling read this which enhanced the humour. Some good essays as well as being funny.

Speaking From Among the Bones by Alan Bradley  Best cliff-hanger to an on going series. Seriously, is the next book out yet?

I'd Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had by Tony Danze Best non-fiction, and an entertaining read about Danza's year as a teacher in a Philly school.