Saturday, January 31, 2015

UPDATE: January

The weather has been:  Stormy! We had two storm days last week, which caused disruptions to final exams. Now a Saturday storm, the worst kind. However, it hasn't affected our travel plans. Husband and daughter got away to a ringette tournament yesterday, and tomorrow travel looks good for son on way to big basketball tournament. I got to meet all kinds of neighbours at the grocery store last night as people were stocking up for the weekend. Have you heard about our Maritime #stormchips? It's just about being prepared for being stormstayed, but there is some controversy about the origin of #stormchips.

 I am listening to: Divergent on audiobook. Very compelling so far; a mixture of Uglies and The Giver. I finished Dancing Barefoot by and read by Wil Wheaton. That was a short set of essays about his life. Amusing and nerdy - total Wil Wheaton. If I don't have an audiobook on my phone these days, waiting for one to be ready at the library, I feel a bit twitchy. Loving audiobooks, partly because I listen to them while playing mindless FB games, so I feel less lazy, cause I'm reading too. Also, I am more likely to crochet a row if I have a book to listen to. Audiobooks actually make me more productive (except for the games)

 I am watching: Sunday night PBS line-up: Great British Baking Show, Downton Abbey, and Granchester. (And Celebrity Apprentice. It balances out the PBS.)
Also, thanks to the beauty of live-streamimg, I'm watching my kids at their tournaments - Atlantic Ringette Championships this weekend, and next week, The Coal Bowl Basketball tournament in Cape Breton. Our school, Charlottetown Rural Raiders are the defending champions and this is my son's last year of high school. There is a tinge of sadness watching their games this year, knowing this amazing group of boys won't play together again.
Youngest daughter, 11, is reading the Harry Potter books for the first time. "That Doleres Umbridge is quite the character!" Heh, heh, no kidding. So we've been watching HP movies as she finishes each book. She's up to The Order of the Phoenix. It's quite fun to enjoy her enjoyment of reading these books for the first time.

 I am reading: Final exams in math and physics? Then The Handsome Man's De Luxe CafĂ© by Alexander McCall Smith, the 15th book in the Number One Ladies Detective Agency. I also started Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth.

Books Entering the House: Some weeks books seem to multiply: I ordered Skin by Mo Hayder and The Federal Bureau of Physics Vol 2 with my Indigo gift card from Christmas; Cobra, the latest book by Deon Meyers,a review book from Random House; requested library books The Handsome Man's De Luxe Cafe and What We All Long For by Dionne Brand, which is a book for our online family book club.

 Plans for the February: Looks like a great reading month ahead, if I can get through all those books that just arrived. Plus, when I look at the Random House Bingo Reading Challenge, Eh, there are more books that I want to read.

January In Reading:
Number of Books Completed:
1. The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee - Sarah Silverman (audiobook)
2. The Street Lawyer - John Grisham
3. The Humans - Matt Haig
4. In the Garden of the Beasts - Erik Larson (audiobook)
5. Dancing Barefoot - Wil Wheaton (audiobook)
6. Walt - Russell Wangersky
Favourite Book of the Month:
Walt - Russell Wangersky


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

REVIEW: November Books

How about some more snapshot reviews from more books I read last year? I still like having a bit of a record of what I read and what I thought (or can remember) about the books. Eventually I'll add some new books I'm reading in this actual year.

82. Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice - Phillip Hoose (audiobook)
One of those free audiobook downloads from the summer, this is the pre-Rosa Parks incident that seemed to prep the civil rights leaders for how to deal with Rosa Parks. Funnily, I started reading this just after I saw a Drunk History segment on Claudette Colvin.

83. The Paying Guests - Sarah Waters (576 pages)
I'm a Waters fan, but sometimes I like her books more after the fact, (other than Fingersmith, that was page-turning awesome). This was a period of time I enjoy - 1920s London, still World War One effects, but changing class structures are turning things on their head. Adding a secret lesbian daughter who becomes infatuated with her new tenant led to a good story. Things got a bit weird with a crime that occurred, and made me want to shake the stupid girls. The story went on a little long, and bad relationships are frustrating to read about regardless of who is in it. Still, an okay Sarah Waters is still a good read.

84. We Were Liars - E Lockhart (240 pages)
 One of those books it is best not to know too much about, and apparently my ability to foresee twists was gone on vacation while I read this, so I was quite surprised. This was a quick read that reminded me of another writer or story which I have not been able to remember.

85. Leaving Everything Most Loved - Jacqueline Winspear (352 pages)
Aww, the last of the Maisie Dobbs (until the next one; it's more that I got all caught up reading six Maisie Dobbs this year). I enjoy these contemplative books and seeing Maisie grow. Winspear took a year off to write a stand alone novel, but there is a new Maisie coming this year.

86. You Are One of Them - Elliott Holt (audiobook 8 h, 26 min)
Narrated by Cassandra Campbell who has narrated a lot of books I've listened to!
Sometimes I listen to audiobooks halfway, depending on what other task I am doing, and how much the book pulls me in. I remember the gist of this book which was partly set in 1980s Cold War America and Russia. A girl becomes a bit obsessed with Russia after her school friend crashes in a plane crash after becoming famous for an invitation from Russia. (That poorly constructed sentence is brought to you by my poor memory of this book) But did she die? This is a book I think I would have enjoyed more in print form and my poor listening skills should not dissuade you from reading.

87. Dark Places - Gillian Flynn (audiobook 13 h, 44 min)
Best book of the month - it is actually one of my favorite reads from 2014. Now this one kept my attention! For fans of Gone Girl, I recommend this twisty, thrilling ride, but it is very twisted and dark. Libby Day's family was slaughtered when she was seven, and she identified her brother as the killer. Twenty years later, she is living off the trust fund and the attention of serial killer fans. She begins to wonder about her brother's guilt based on some of the serial killer fans. Warning: Fans of serial killers are not the worst thing that happens in this book.

There were three narrators - Libby, her brother Ben, and Libby's mother in the past, one of which is the delightful Cassandra Campbell again. The story goes back and forth, with more and more horrid (Satan worship, sex, drugs, etc, it gets bad) details being revealed. This is the fictional version of In Cold Blood; not really but it feels a lot like it.  I can't wait for the next Gillian Flynn novel!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

REVIEW: December Books


December wasn't the best reading month for me at all - I only got through 2 books and 2 very short audiobooks. Here's a little summary of what got what:

 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien DNF

 I really thought I might get through this book when it was picked for my book club this month - it's published as a children's book with larger font, but alas, it didn't not work. (It was probably our least discussed book - two of us didn't finish, one had read it years ago and didn't reread, one read it all, and the other gal didn't make it to the meeting) After 2 weeks of reading, I was still only half way through and couldn't care less what else happened to poor Bilbo Baggins. I can recognize the influences this may have had on other books, like Harry Potter, but it wasn't worth my time over the Christmas season.

 A Christmas Beginning - Anne Perry (audiobook) (in November)
 A Christmas Visitor - Anne Perry (audiobook)
 A Christmas Grace - Anne Perry (audiobook)

Each of these audiobooks are stand-alone Christmas books about 3 to 4 hours long. They feature minor characters from Perry's successful mystery series , Monk and Thomas Pitt, placed in new villages or towns for the season. It's a neat concept because these characters have never had much of a back story in some cases, and it allows Perry to take the familiar and build a whole world. There are 12 books in this series now - I think she publishes a new one each Christmas. I couldn't tell you what exactly happened in each but they made an easy story to listen to in the car for minutes at a time.

 A Royal Flush - Rhys Bowen

This is turning into a fun little series. Everyone heads up to Scotland and it looks like someone is trying to bump off members of the royal family. The queen is still trying to separate her son and 'that woman,' Mrs Simpson. Georgie is continually caught in the middle of things, brings in her lower class grandfather, trying to avoid getting married, and running into Darcy O'Mara. Nothing too deep, nice back-glance at historic events. I'll keep reading.

 A Royal Pain - Rhys Bowen Read this one in November - more of amusing same.

Station Eleven - Emily St. John Mandel

The best book of the month. I guess it is considered apocalyptic, what with most of the population of the world dying from a crazily infectious flu. The style is unique,  a back and forth in time with eventually all parts leading up to the same point. The book starts with an actor dying on stage just before the plague occurs, (in Toronto, just like SARS) and then follows the assorted people associated with the actor as the flu spreads, and then in the future. Lots of Shakespeare references, from the opening play of Hamlet, to the traveling orchestra and theatre troupe navigating  the abandoned roads performing Shakespeare as it was originally done. I was a little disappointed at the ending as not all the characters interacted as I would have liked to see. Part of the reason why this may been so popular is its slightly optimistic outlook of a grim future - this is no The Road. There are some dangerous people running around, but for the most part, people are just surviving. 

 I didn't get any books for Christmas this year, but I do have an Indigo gift card I'm dithering about what to get.  

I didn't  buy many books this Christmas. Youngest daughter likes the Dear Canada Diary books, and gave me a list of ones she has already read  but noted that she likes "the ones with adventure or disaster types, not boring ones about Confederation or someone moves here." Noted. I got Dear Canada: All Fall Down. The Landslide Diary of Amy Roberts. I think it was sufficiently disasterly. I also think it is the same landslide that was a central plot in the wonderful The Outlander by Gil Adams. I had bought the most recent Diary of a Wimpy Kid book, but when discussing before Christmas I misunderstood her and thought she already had it, so left it in my room to be returned. A few days after Christmas she mentioned that she didn't have it. Belated Christmas gift! I can't tell you how many times my procrastination was rewarded this Christmas. I'll never improve.

The other book news from Christmas was the beginning of a family book club. At one of those wonderful extended family gatherings (a Jersey party: we all wear hockey jerseys, eat great food, and watch a World Junior game - how Canadian are we?) it eventually ended up my sister and two of our younger cousins sitting together talking, as it often does. The 2 boys are like the younger brothers that we never had, and we are all kindred spirits. During this chat we were updating what books we've read, what movies and shows we've seen and someone mentioned how we should read a book on line together. Awesome idea! A private FB page was set up with all the readers in the family (cousins, aunts, uncles,etc) and we voted on a book from the Canada Reads nomination list. We have until March to get our book and then discuss it. Facebook such a great way for families to stay in touch (we have another private family page for pictures and news and chirping. Lots of chirping.)  and discuss a book as we are spread out over Canada. I'm very excited about this new book club.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Top Ten 2014 Releases I Meant To Read But Didn't Get To

 Top Ten 2014 Releases I Meant To Read But Didn't Get To 

Each week The Broke and the Bookish host Top Ten Tuesday

Just yesterday I was looking through some of those 'Best of 2014' lists and was trying to remember a few that I would like to get to this year. And now this is the Top Ten topic for today? Cool. A few of these I already have on request from the library, so I will get to them.

The Martian by Andy Weir

How to Be Both by Ali Smith

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant by Roz Chast

Walt by Russell Wangersky

Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham

 Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

 Any thoughts? Suggestions? Which ones do I *have* to get to?

CHALLENGE: Reading Bingo, Eh

  • A Scotiabank Giller prize nominated novel (Age of Longing by Richard B Wright)
  • A Scotiabank Giller prize winning novel (Hellgoing by Lynn Coady)
  • a book by a Canadian author (but not Margaret Atwood) (Rush Home Road by Lori Lansens)
  • a book by Margaret Atwood (Oryx and Crake)
  • a book set in BC (The Fire-Dwellers by Margaret Laurence)
  • a book set on the East Coast   Walt by Russell Wangersky 
  • a book set in the Prairies
  • a book set in Toronto What We All Long For by Dionne Brand
  • a book by an aboriginal author
  • a book recommended by CBC (The Empty Room by Lauren B Davis)
  • a Canada Reads nominated book (The Last Crossing by Guy Vandergaeghe)
  • a work of nonfiction by a Canadian author
  • a Governor Generals award nominated book Strange Heaven by Lynn Coady
  • a mystery or thriller by a Canadian author (The Taken by Inger Ash Wolfe)
  • a book of poetry by a Canadian poet - Sheree Fitch
  • a book about a Canadian sports team - (Blue Jays book by Stephen Brunt)
  • a book by Alice Munro (Lives of Girls and Women)
  • a Canadian novel that was adapted for screen (tv/movie) (Republic of Love by Carol Shields)
  • a book with a red and white cover (The Many Lives and Secret Sorrows of Josephine B - Sandra Gulland)
  • a book that was featured on Canada AM (As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust - Alan Bradley)
  • a biography or autobiography of a Canadian celebrity (I Must Say by Martin Short)
  • a book that appears in #canlit (The Girl Who Was Saturday Night - Heather O'Neill)
  • a book with snow on the cover (Inside by Alix Ohlin)
  • a book by LM Montgomery (Anne's House of Dreams)

This looks like it could be fun!
Hosted by RandomHouse Canada

Books Read:
1. Walt - Russell Wangersky
2. What We All Long For - Dionne Brand
3. Strange Heaven - Lynn Coady
4. Lives of Girls and Women - Alice Munro
5. Anne's House of Dreams - LM Montgomery
6. As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust - Alan Bradley
7. I Must Say: My Life as a Humble Comedy Legend - Martin Short
8. The Girl Who Was Saturday Night - Heather O'Neill
9. Rush Home Road - Lori Lansens
10. The Fire-Dwellers by Margaret Laurence
11. Age of Longing - Richard B Wright
12. The Empty Room - Lauren B Davis
13.  The Taken - Inger Ash Wolfe
14. The Many Lives and Secret Sorrows of Josephine B - Sandra Gulland
15. The Republic of Love - Carol Shields
16. Inside - Alix Ohlin
17. The Last Crossing by Guy Vandergaeghe
18. Hellgoing - Lynn Coady

Sunday, January 4, 2015

BOOK: The Bedwetter by Sarah Silverman

The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee by Sarah Silverman, 5 h 42 min

Sarah Silverman's memoir is not quite like Tina Fey's or Mindy Kaling's, other famous female comedians, although I associate the books somewhat together in the file sorter of my brain.  (I expect Amy Poehler's Yes, Please will complete that particular trilogy for me, which means I have to listen to her read it.) In fact, the blurb about this book includes a disclaimer quiz with questions such as:

2. Are you offended by the following behavior?
A Instructing one's grandmother to place baked goods in her rectal cavity.
B Stripping naked in public–eleven times in a row.
C Stabbing one's boss in the head with a writing implement.

Sarah Silverman is not for the faint of heart - she's got a real potty mouth and nothing is off limits - she is known as a blue comedian after all. Once that is all out of they way, it's a very Sarah book, read by her and I did enjoy it. If you are not a fan already, I wouldn't recommend this, but for those who find her funny, this was great. She covers some of her career highlights, and controversies, and stories from her childhood. I haven't watched her TV show but I've seen her on stand-up shows, and that Jimmy Kimmel episode with her famous video, "I'm F#2$ing Matt Damon," part of the hilarious on-going feud between Kimmel and Damon. She's all about the shock-value, so be fore-warned. I love her dead-pan delivery.

I recommend it to listen to while putting away all your Christmas decorations. Sarah and her Jewy-ness might appreciate the irony.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

CHALLENGE: Series Goals 2015

This has been my favorite challenge and the one I have the most success with - my own personal list of series to keep up with. Last year I read 24 books from my lists. Being able to get some audiobooks has helped a lot, and has rejuvenated some series for me.  Thanks again to SuziQoregon at Whimpulsive for the inspiration.

The Ones I got up to date in 2014. Will there be new books in my favorite series in 2015? 

Darko Dawson by Kwei Quartey
    Murder at Cape Three Points (March 18, 2014)
The Dublin Murder Squad by Tana French
The Number One Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
     The Handsome Man's Deluxe Cafe 
     The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine
Vish Puri by Tarquin Hall
Inspector Armand Gamauche by Louise Penny
 The Nature of the Beast
Flavia de Luce by Alan Bradley
   As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust (audiobook)
Inspector Montalbano by Andrea Camilleri
     Game of Mirrors (April 2015)
     A Beam of Light (Sept 2015)
Maggie Hope  by Susan Elia MacNeal
   Mrs Roosevelt's Confidente  (October 2015)
Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear
  A Dangerous Place 

 Up to Date and Series is Done. :(
 Detective Erlendur by Arnaldur Indridason
Is there a prequel to Erlendur? Must look for Reyjevik Nights
 The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz
 Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin (Diana Norman)

 Still Working on...

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

 An Irish Country Series by Patrick Taylor
An Irish Country Courtship (audiobook Halifax)
A Dublin Student Doctor
An Irish Country Wedding
Fingal O'Reilly, Irish Doctor
An Irish Doctor in Peace and at War

 Jack Caffery by Mo Hayder (rec'd by suziQoregon)
Skin  March

Gone April

 Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen
4. Royal Blood
5. Naughty in Nice
6. The Twelve Clues of Christmas
7. Heirs and Graces
8. Queen of Hearts
9.A Royal Threesome

The ones I want to start reading in 2015: 

Divergent by Veronica Roth
Divergent (audiobook)
Insurgent (audiobook)

Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth 

Miss Marple series (audiobooks)
Murder at the Vicarage
The Body in the Library 
The Moving Finger
A Murder is Announced
They Do It With Mirrors
A Pocket Full of Rye
4.50 From Paddington
The Mirror Crack'd From Side to Side
A Caribbean Mystery 
At Bertram's Hotel
Sleeping Murder
The Tuesday Club Murders (Thirteen Problems)

Will Trent series by Karin Slaughter
Undone  (own the book)
Broken  (playaway)
Fallen  (pei audiobook)
Criminal (pei audiobook)

 The Ones Where I thought I'd read in 2013 2014 and then didn't: 

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

Martin Beck Crime series by Per Wahloo and Maj Sjowall
6. Murder at the Savoy nov 15
7.The Abominable Man
8. The Locked Room
9. Cop Killer
10. The Terrorists

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 (listened in 2015)
A Door in the River