Wednesday, March 25, 2015

BOOK: Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng and The Girl on the Train

These books will be linked together for me for a long time, for no literary reason at all:
  • I read both on the March Break 
  • This March Break (and winter) was full of blizzards and snow that shuts down the Confederation Bridge, and warnings from RCMP to stay off the road, and picture after unbelievable picture of snow banks and drifts, and even though it is not something I do very often, I promise to never complain about summer weather in any way shape or form.
  • Both books are from my first Top Ten List of 2015 (books from 2014 I wish I'd read)
  • Both books are from my school library and the awesome school librarian who gets books for 'mature readers'; and who knows that books for teachers are important too! We model reading after all and discuss books with our students - a culture of reading
  • Plus they were excellent reads! A touching family drama, and a suspense mystery.

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng, 292 pages

First of all, I really like this cover. I also really liked the inside book as well. I spent much of the novel being frustrated with this family, and the parents lack of awareness about anything - their own wishes, their children, their hurts. A Chinese father and Caucasian mother meet and marry in 1970s middle America. They love each other, and make sacrifices for each other, but neither is very happy. Once their children come along, the blue-eyed daughter Lydia becomes the focus for both parents to project their deepest hurts - the dad never fit it, never had friends as an American born Chinese child; the mom wanted to be a doctor not a housewife. The other two children, especially the youngest, will just break your heart.

The book starts with the line 'Lydia is dead' and then moves forward and back to unravel what happened. (Side note: this is not a literary thriller, and book blurb writers or reviewers who attempt to label it thus need to read some Deon Meyer and Mo Hayder, because those are thriller/mysteries. Just because there is something the reader doesn't know, doesn't make a book a mystery or thriller. I've been misled before.) This was a touching book that covered many issues that will have you immersed in this family's sad life.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, 318 pages

It gets compared to Gone Girl, but for me it is only in how information is revealed, and how people aren't exactly what you think they are. A girl watches people and couples from the train. One day she sees something, and eventually police are involved. That's all you need to know. Just enjoy the revelations as they come.  I've said too much already!

For some reason, I thought this was Canadian, so when she took the train to London, I was a bit confused, because why not Toronto?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Top 10 Books From My Childhood That I Would Love To Revisit


 Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. The topic this week: Books from My Childhood That I Would Love to Revisit. Some of these are cheats, because I have revisited them, and I've watched my children read this (and generally love them as well). Some are classics, but some are little known scholastic books from the monthly book order in elementary school. The book orders were really a highlight - rationing my allowance to get a book, poring over the descriptions to decide which book to get, and then when the order came in - waiting for my book.

Follow My Leader by James B Garfield

A young boy is blinded playing with firecrackers, and learns to be independent with the help of a guide dog. My kids have all read my original edition.
My Mother Made Me! by Sharon Brain

Four girls try to protest against their mothers signing them up to play hockey. They run away, in the summer, to the local rink and hide out their, ironically, playing a form of hockey to keep themselves amused. I really remember them and the bats in the rink.

The Great Brain
by John D Fitzgerald

I must have read and reread this series more times than I can count. Such a fun, historic series. It was set in the same era as Anne of Green Gables, so I was familiar with local life at that time, but Utah in the late 1800s in a Mormon community was very different. Classic comedy books!

Why Me? by John Branfield

It took me a long time to find out about this book which I reread a few times in elementary school. A young girl gets diabetes and it takes helping her dog, who also gets diabetes, for her to learn to look after herself and accept her diabetes. Apparently sometimes called Sugar Mice, I eventually found the name and author through a librarything group called Name That Book?

This Can't Be Happening At MacDonald Hall by Gordon Korman

I was in grade five when the first of the prolific author Korman's first book was published. He wrote this as a school project when he was a teenager and I still can rememeber Mrs Adams laughing so hard as she tried to read aloud this book that she couldn't read at all. (the panty-raid at Miss Scrimmages!) Korman is still one of my favorite authors for this series, as well as the incredible stand-alone book, I Want to Go Home. It can't be a coincidence that the short story I wrote in grade 8 is very similar to Korman's books of humour and mistaken identity.

The Bobbsey Twins  by Laura Lee Hope
The Bobbsey Twins and the Doodlebug Mystery by Laura Lee Hope

I was never much of a Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew reader. I read a few, but the series I really loved was the Bobbsey Twins. Nan and Bert, Freddie and Flossie - I couldn't get enough of those sets of twins. I even had an original, before the mystery series, edition book, which was just a story of their life. They had a black maid and her accent made me uncomfortable. I don't even know if this edition is still around. I'm pretty sure the mysteries from the 1970s were a cleaned up version, and probably not even written by Laura Lee Hope. We had a childhood friend who had nearly every book in the series. That row of purple books in her bed room was to die for.
The DoodleBug Mystery is one that I remember the best.

Free to Be, You and Me by Marlo Thomas

We had this as a hard cover, filled with all kinds of wonderful short stories, poems, songs, and cartoons. William Wants a Doll, The Pain and the Great One, and the notes back and forth between two friends negotiating for the girl to pitch on the baseball team.

Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume

I had a hard time deciding which Judy Blume book to pick, because really, Judy is the author of my pre-teens. Not so amazingly, she still rocks with the elementary set. My kids loved Fudge, and all the books about Fudge. She is as relevant as ever.

Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary
Another author who has not lost her mojo, Ramona books are still as popular as ever. While finding this cover, I discovered that Ms Cleary is still alive at 98! There needs to be a little more recognition of this great author. Henry Higgins, Ramona, and Socks are all characters I remember fondly.


Heidi by Joanna Spryri
Essentially Anne of Green Gables in Switzerland, is it any wonder I loved this book too? I read this and the sequel and still want to go to Switzerland.
ETA: I knew I'd forget something - Enid Blyton! We had a bunch of her books, but The Faraway Tree is the one I read and reread. (I think it is called that. Cathy?) Everytime they went up in the tree, they went to a new land. Probably started my love of British books.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015



March Break! Perfect day being home and able to post for Top Ten Tuesday hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Of course, I'd be home regardless today because ANOTHER BLIZZARD has hit the Maritimes, another 54 cm of snow, 24 hours of blowing snow causing unbelievable drifts. At this point, I am unable to be impressed with yet another picture of a snow drift because it causes my brain to shut off. This is not possible. What is possible apparently, is another drop of 15-20 cm snow tonight/tomorrow. Which isn't a lot, but when the first pile hasn't been cleaned up? Seriously, weather? We give up. 

Books I Hope to Read this Spring (or as we call it, the Winter continued)

Books in continuing series...

Gone by Mo Hayder
I finished Skin last week, and this is the third in a mini-trilogy within the series, so I want to read it while I still remember what happened in Skin.

Game of Mirrors by Andrea Camilleri
The latest in Inspector Montalbano will be released in April, with another one translated this fall so I better stay on top of this series. Camilleri is turning 90 this year. Remember when I wrote about Sicily and my love of the series? 

Books from the Bailey's Prize for Women's Longlist...

  The Girl Who Was Saturday Night by Heather O'Neill
A Canadian nominated for the Bailey's! I've read her Lullabies for Little Criminals and remember it as gritty Montreal.

How to Be Both by Ali Smith
I read her There But For The book when it was last nominated for the Bailey's Prize, but I get her mixed up with Zadie Smith and I think I liked her NW better.  Oh my, that's not an appealing cover.


The Moving Finger by Agatha Christie
A Murder is Announced by Agatha Christie

Both are requested at the library and should arrive soon.

Books from my own shelves...
Triptych by Karin Slaughter
A new series with Will Trent set in Atlanta. If I get this read, the rest of the series is available in audiobook from the library.

Strange Heaven by Lynn Coady
I picked this up at a used book sale somewhere along the way. I have no idea what this book is about, but I am using it for a Governor Generals award nominated book for the Reading Bingo, Eh challenge.

A Canadian authored book from my shelves. I really don't care which one it is, and I have plenty to pick from - The Age of Longing by Richard B Wright, essays by Rex Murphy, Rush Home Road by Lori Lansens, Lives of Girls and Women by Alice Munro, The Last Crossing by Guy Vanderhaege, Republic of Love by Carol Shields, Orxy and Crake by Margaret Atwood,

 Book for Bookclub...
Fly Away Home by Jennifer Weiner
Looks like an easy fun read for my next book club meeting.

Friday, March 13, 2015

SERIES: Miss Marple by Agatha Christie

Years ago, as a teenager, I read a lot of Agatha Christie (and Ed McBain and Stephen King - the usuals.) I was a huge Poirot fan, with his little grey cells and logic.  A few Tommy and Tuppence, which on re-read later, are even better! I must have read some Miss Marple because I know I actively avoided her stories. I think the reason I wasn't a fan was that she didn't appear to be a part of the story. I wanted my detective front and center and for me to be a part of the reasoning process.  I guess people change as they get older, and aren't I lucky now to have all the Miss Marples to read Brand New? Yes, I am a lucky girl. Most of the Miss Marples are available on audiobook through my library, so it will be a very Jane Marple-y year for me.

Murder at the Vicarage  (7h 19 min)

I wasn't really a fan of the narrator, Joan Hickson. She was very British, which I liked, but also rather breathy, which I didn't; and the narrator was actually a male in the story, which was weird.  But the story was great, I really liked the Vicar and his young wife. I suffer a little with actual poor listening skills, so I mix up characters and don't remember names (who is that girl?) when I can't see the letters. Interestingly, I don't remember names when I read them either, but I recognize the arrangements of letters as that person. I was very excited to realize that I 'do' like Miss Marple, and now have over ten books to read and mostly listen to. 

The Body in the Library (5 h, 21 min)

I'm going to try to read the series in order, as best I can. This narrator, Stephanie Cole, was an improvement. I noticed that the vicar and his wife were mentioned, and while it would not affect the story in the least, seeing Griselda and Dennis Clement a year or so later added much enjoyment for my experience. (I really like to read my mystery series in order, even if you don't need to.) This was a particularly well plotted book with perhaps fewer characters, and unraveling all the characters and their motives and their actions is great fun. Especially for a little old lady well versed in village behaviours. I hate to imagine how old Miss Marple really was; dare I say a young middle age by today standards, like my age.

Next up: The Moving Finger in book edition form. I think it is even in large print version, so not the most popular of the Marples. Then will be A Murder is Announced.

Agatha Christie is the GOAT of mystery writers.