Wednesday, July 27, 2016

BOOKS: Jack Caffrey by Mo Hayder

Mo Hayder writes the scariest police books I've read. Like, Criminal Minds creepy. I've finished the series now, and several threads were tied up and it feels like a good place to stop.

1. Birdman
2. The Treatment - the only book I listened to, and I loved the narrator and the way he said 'Jack'

The first two books are very graphic and disturbing. One of the overarching stories is about Ewan, Jack's younger brother who disappeared when they were young. Jack has always felt it was their back door neighbour, Pendericki who still lives behind him. So, serial killers and pedophiles dominate the opening books. Just warning!

3. Ritual
4. Skin
5. Gone

Books 3-5 form a little mini-trilogy in the middle of the series. Police diver Flea Marley takes a center stage and an unsolved case carries through. There is some connection between Flea and Jack that needs to be developed, but Flea is no more together than Jack. Jack has moved out of London and seems to be moving on from Ewan's death. A few more serial killers, lots of suspense.

6. Poppet
7. Wolf

Poppet by Mo Hayder (384 pages)

Something weird is going on at a mental hospital and Jack gets called in on the sly, because the whistle-blower isn't supposed to be reporting the suspicious deaths. The cover is creepy, and so is the book. But really good if you like creepy suspense!

Not much Flea in this one, but she is still on Jack's mind.

Wolf by Mo Hayder (416 pages)

Sometimes, worrying about what might happen is scarier than what actually happens. That is the theme of this book, as a family is taken hostage, and they are still a bit creeped out by a brutal murder that happened in the area fifteen years before. As a reader, you are just as scared as the family about what might happen even if nothing even really happens. The power of imagination. Now, having said that, there are some super creepy and scary people in this one. Let's just say I read most of this one during the daylight hours!
Jack finally gets some closure but he's still pretty messed up.

Hayder has a few stand alone novels as well - Hanging Hill, Toyko, and Pig Island that I will definitely look into. Any one feeling brave enough to try some Hayder?

Tuesday, July 26, 2016


The Top Ten Tuesday topic, hosted at The Broke and the Bookish, this week is Top Ten Things Books Have Made Me Want To Do or Learn About After Reading Them. 

Redwoods/Giant Sequoias - I just wrote a post about this! Both At the Edge of the Orchard and The Cookbook Collector had the trees as important parts of the story.

Paris in the Twenties - After reading The Paris Wife, I wanted more! I found Z: Zelda which was more of the same people (Hemngways and Fitzgeralds). 

Sicily -  Italy would be great for many, many reasons, but Salva Montalbano, chief detective and the food he eats make me want to see it. There are actually tours you can take to 'follow' Montalbano around.

Greenwich - A World Heritage Site, the location of O degree longitude and center of time scientific study, inspired by Longitude by Dava Sobel

Lyme Regis, England - the fossils in Southern England, including Mary Anning's home/museum from Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier

London - So many books have contributed to my wanting to visit London but foremost is Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman and the tube system. Also, my Bridget Jones' readings.

Switzerland - Heidi. Didn't eveyone who read Heidi want to go to Switzerland? She's the Anne of Green Gables of Europe.

The Strand, New York City - the bookstore where Dash and Lily met in Dash and Lily's Book of Dares in the heart of NYC. There are probably hundreds of other places mentioned in books in New York that I'd love to see.

French Revolution - I never finished reading Les Miserables, and I haven't seen the musical (gasp!). However, a few books I've read make me want to learn more about that time period of the French revolution and Napoleon.

I'm sure I've missed some big ideas that I would have liked to add. One thing that I haven't been inspired despite reading about, is hiking a trail like in Wild by Cheryl Strayed. I hope to read Bill Bryson's walk on the Appalacian Trail book, but I will not plan or dream of walking it. 

Sunday, July 24, 2016

CHALLENGE: Pin It and Do It

Is Pin It and Do It still at thing at Trish's Love, Laughter and Insanity? Cause I have been all over it this summer! Eh, even if it isn't, I'm pretending it is so I can share these two salads.

Since my sixteen year old daughter decided to become a vegetarian, I've created a board called Vegetarian Ideas. She likes hummus and black beans, and we now that brocolli and peas are a source of protein, as is quinoa. She also likes fish when it's breaded. We don't all eat vegetarian, but we are having vegetarian meals now and then, or bbq'ing her veggie dogs while we have our hams and hots. 

This salad, called Rainbow Quinoa Salad with Tahini Ginger Dressing was good on a few levels. It held up in the fridge for quite a few days (makes a lot if you follow the directions) and was hearty and healthy. The rainbow part is corn, red pepper, broccoli, red cabbage and carrot. There's enough protein for a meal on its own, or as a side for the meat eaters. Will make again.

Quite a few years ago I had a fattoush salad at a local Lebanese restaurant and I just loved it. It's been on my mind for a while and then I found it on pinterest, here's the link. Score! It's pretty basic salad - romaine, tomatoes, radish, and a few ingredients for the dressing that I did need to get. Sumac spice and a pomengranate molasses are the flavours that really make this salad tasty. I left out the dried mint but I happened to have some fresh in the fridge. A little lemon juice, little olive oil. The other unique part of the salad is the pita chips - sort of a crouton. Overall, I will definitely be making this salad again.

If there is no more Pin It and Do It, then let's say it is for Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish Reads. I've always wanted to do one of these as I love to read other posts each week. 

Please do visit Weekend Cooking for lots more food related postings. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

BOOKS: At the Edge of the Cookbook Collector's Orchard

Did you ever read two random books that end up having something unusual in common? That happened to me recently. And now that I put their two covers together, there is even more in common! Surprise - it is not apples.

At the Edge of the Orchard by Tracy Chevalier (304 pages)

My favourite historical fiction writer had a new book out this spring. With Johnny Appleseed! Backstory: my sister and I had a record that we loved to listen to. It told the story of simple Johnny Appleseed, spreading the word of the Lord along with apple seeds, to settlers in America. So when I saw my favourite author wrote a book with great childhood memories, I was pumped!

The first half of the book is about a family, an unhappy couple who end up on a swamp in Ohio, trying to grow apples to claim their land. (Johnny doesn't actually play a big part; he drops some seeds or seedlings off and preaches. That's okay, I had the songs in my head the whole time. "Oh, the Lord is good to me, and so I thank the Lord....''') The husband is obsessed with getting his apples to grow, and grafting. The wife is all about the cider Applejack and being drunk. The kids are all struggling what with the no money, the drunk mother, and the dad trying to get his trees to grow. 

The second half of the book follows one of the sons as he leaves his horrible family and heads west. Robert Goodenough has his father's interest in trees and he eventually ends up in California. There are some great letters written as well which move the story along. He finds the redwoods and the giant sequoias. I don't think I really realized how rare and huge the trees were, and now obviously I would love to see them! The seed collector that Robert works for, William Lobb, was a real person (about him) involved in the competitive seed collecting world of the mid 1800s. Really!

Anyway, lots happens to Robert, the poor guy, and the story happens. I liked it, good happy ending. Chevalier does amazing research and you feel like you learn a lot, but not really learning. I wouldn't say her stories are heavily character driven. They are a balance of plot and characters, but the reader never gets inside the head of the characters and is kept a distance from the head, but not the action. Not my favourite Chevalier book, but a good solid entry in her booklist.

The next Chevalier novel for me: The Last Runaway, or Reader, I Married Him, a collection of short stories based on Jane Eyre, edited by Chevalier.

The Cookbook Collector by Allegra Goodman (394 pages)

After read Intuition a few years ago, I really wanted to read The Cookbook Collector. The main characters are two sisters Emily and Jess. Emily is the elder, the CEO of a computer start-up from the Bay area in the late 1990s. Money is flying and Emily is very successful. Her boyfriend is the CEO of an equally successful computer company in Boston. Emily is the younger, hippie type with no real focus. She works part time at a book story (owned by the cookbook collector) while completed her MA and saving the trees with her eco group.

The trees! I couldn't believe after never being really aware of the extent of the redwoods and sequoias, I landed on my second book in three months. Jess ends up at one point staying on top of a redwood to prevent it from being cut down.

The story is more than just the two sisters. From each, we branch off and take tangents from each sister to the people involved in their lives. Boyfriends, the people at their work, neighbours, their father. We meander around, but still moving forward. If I started to mention all the topics and issues that get brought up, it would seem too much, but Goodman has her story firmly in her hand and she connects the dots by the end. All these seemingly loose threads get braided up by the end in a very satisfying way. The element of recent history with the collapse of the dot com industry, and 9/11 seem closer than the fifteen years ago it is.

The biggest distractor was that one of the computer companies was called ISIS. I had to look it up because the book was written in 2010, just before the initials became more sinister and well known.

Like the other book I read, Goodman writes real characters, flawed and all, but all the situations are real life, conflict that is real but not far-fetched.

Next Goodman novel for me will be The Other Side of the Island, the only other book my library has.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Books Set Outside the US

The Top Ten Tuesday topic, hosted at The Broke and the Bookish, this week is top ten books set outside the United States. I love reading books set in very different countries and have many different mystery series that are set around the world. Here are a few:

India - The Case of the Missing Servant by Tarquin Hall
Detective Vish Puri and his merry band of investigators take on mysteries in Dehli. Enjoy the foods, the people and Puri's interesting family.

Iceland - Reykjavik Night's by Arnaldur Indridason
 Life is bleak and dark in Iceland for much of the year, making lots of work for the police. 

Italy - A Beam of Light by Andrea Camilleri
Ah, nothing like spending some time on Sicily, with good food and hilarious cops. You really must go to Sicily.

Switzerland - Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum
Not a mystery series but a good read about a modern wife in Switzerland. There is some suspense in reading the book as to what will happen to poor Anna. 

Australia - The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas
The Slap is not a mystery either, but it was a great book about modern Australia. Lots of different perspectives, and immigration issues. There are good mysteries set in Australia - look for Peter Temple or Kerry Greenwood

Ireland - Broken Harbour by Tana French
There is a new book by French coming out this fall, so now is the time to get caught up on the back books. Although, each book is actually a stand alone, with a new main character who may have been a minor character in the previous book. Broken Harbour is a great look at Ireland after the financial bust 

South Africa - Seven Days by Deon Meyer
Meyer is writing some very intense, very thrilling mysteries. If you like mysteries and police procedurals, you need to be reading Meyer.

Ghana - Wife of the Gods by Kwei Quartey
Nice blend of present and past, modern and traditional

Japan - All She Was Worth by Miyiki Miyabe
I've read a few of Miyabe's Japanese mysteries. They are all stand alone and are all unique. 

Botswana - The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
Spend some time in Botswana with the lovely Precious Ramwotse and appreciate bush tea and wonderful people

Canada - A Door in the River by Inger Ash Wolfe
Great mystery series set in Ontario with a female cop. Only 4 books in the series which is very manageable.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

BOOK: Rilla of Ingleside by LM Montgomery

Rilla of Ingleside by LM Montgomery (10 h 19 min)

Rilla of Ingleside is the last in the eight book series that started with Anne of Green Gables. Rilla is the youngest of Anne and Gilbert's children, named after Marilla and this book is her coming of age book. But more than Rilla, this book is a wonderful look at life on the homefront during WW1.

The book opens with Susan, the Blythe's cook and housekeeper, dismissingly reading about some guy killed in Sarejavo, of whom and where she has no interest at all, not when there is gossip about Glen St Mary's to read about. Of course, we know the implications of that assassination, and soon, Susan will be reading the paper and discussing places and battles with a detail not expected of an unworldly, untravelled person like Susan.

Rilla starts the book as a carefree fifteen year old, somewhat spoiled as the youngest of six, and looking forward to a summer of beaus and dances. Instead, her first big dance ends with the announcement of England declaring war with Germany. Four years later, Rilla, after sharing much of her thoughts in her diary with the reader, has grown and faced challenges and grief that no one wishes on any teenager.

Canada as a nation was also like a teenager as the war started. Only 47 years old as a nation, Canada was still very much tied to Britain, and joined the war along with GB, just like all the young boys in Canada signed up to fight the Kaiser. Battles like Passendale and Vimy Ridge were Canadian-led and considered instrumental in Canada becoming a mature, independent nation. Part of our heritage.

The battles are well known and taught in school, but the other side of wars, the homefront and the role of women, never seems to make it into the history books. Montgomery wrote this book in 1921, so everything was still pretty fresh. Mothers and wives, sisters and daughters sent their boys off with a smile and then just waited. Scouring the newspaper, learning to bake without eggs and butter (Susan finds this a particular hardship she cannot handle), getting the crops in, and waiting and hoping.

At one point, it seems every young man Rilla knows is off in France fighting in the trenches. Of course, not all make it back alive. Montgomery, known for her own dark life, doesn't let Anne and Rilla off the hook. Dear Walter, the poet, faces all his fears in bravery. In a nice touch, a poem he writes on the battlefield, 'The Piper', becomes the most famous poem of the war. I always imagine it to be like 'In Flanders' Field' by Robert MacRae.

Dilemmas with pacifism, Germans living in Canada, feathers in envelopes, new technologies (airplanes and cars!) are also discussed. But it's not all big ideas - regular Montgomery tropes are here aplenty. Random inheritances from chance meetings, elopements defying unreasonable parents, babies appearing and being raised by Rilla (no family services to investigate), babies nearly dying from croup, and happy endings.

The most touching part of the book is Jem's dog, Monday, who stays at the train station after seeing his master off to war. Stays there for four years, and always knows immediately what has happened.

I've been re-reading, or rather, listening to the Anne series again. This one I listened on 1.25X and have found listening to be a way to enjoy the books anew. My only complaint is the pronunciation of some Island names. Clow, should be pronounced to rhyme with 'low', not to rhyme with 'cow'. Drives me nuts every time!

Friday, July 8, 2016

CHALLENGE: 10th Canadian Book Challenge

All in for the tenth!
Check out The Book Mine Set for more info and sign -ups. John is the best host for this, my favourite challenge (because it is the easiest). Except, John insists on reviews, which is the part I find hard. But  I understand how this encourages discussion. There are going to be prizes, and mini-challenges, and great Canadian books.

Books Read:
1. You Went Away - Timothy Findley
2. Rilla of Ingleside - LM Montgomery (audiobook)
3. The Night Bell - Inger Ash Wolfe
4. Shampoo Planet - Douglas Coupland
5. The Englishman's Boy - Guy Vanderhaeghe
6. Fifteen Dogs - Andre Alexis
7. The Wonder - Emma Donoghue
8. The Couple Next Door - Sharon Lapena (audiobook)
9. Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd - Alan Bradley (audiobook)
10. A Great Reckoning - Louise Penny (audiobook)
11. The Illegal - Lawrence Hill
12. Canada - Mike Myers
13. Getting Over Edgar - Joan Barfoot
14. Family Matters - Rohinton Mistry
15. Captured Hearts: New Brunswick's War Brides - Melynda Jarratt
16. The End of the Alphabet - CS Richardson
17. David and Goliath  - Malcolm Gladwell
18. Hag-Seed - Margaret Atwood
19. The Massey Murder - Charlotte Gray
20. The Age of Hope - David Bergen
21. Outliers - Malcolm Gladwell (audiobook)
22. A Tap on the Window - Linwood Barclay
23. Field Notes - Sara Jewell 
24. Pumpkinflowers - Matti Freidman (audiobook)
25. Knucklehead - Matt Lennox
26. The Lonely Hearts Hotel - Heather O'Neill
27. Based on a True Story - Norm Macdonald

Thursday, July 7, 2016

BOOKS: You Went 100 Sideways Miles Calling

100 Sideways Miles - Andrew Smith (audiobook from YA Sync)

This was a cute little coming of age young adult novel. Finn, the narrator, measures time in distance, as in the distance the earth has travelled. The physics in me liked this little quirk. He also has epilepsy, and is dealing with teenage stuff - parents, wants a girl friend, has a cool friend who pushes him into doing things he doesn't really want but actually does. Mostly realistic fiction, but perhaps a bit far-fetched, I still enjoyed listening to this one.

 You Went Away - Timothy Findley (220 pages)

Written in 1996 but set during WW2, this Canadian novel looks at a family on the homefront. The idea behind the story is a box a found photographs, and the piecing together of the lives behind the pictures. The family consists of a husband whose brother died a hero in WW1, a wife and their two children. The husband joins and hopes to earn his mother's love, but things fall apart with his boozing and womanizing once he realizes he isn't going to be flying planes like a hero. The wife tries to keep things together and his young son reaches the age where he sees his parents as people, flawed people.  It's a quiet story, sad lives.

The Cuckoo's Calling - Robert Galbraith (464 pages)

What fun to find a great new series to follow! Cormoran Strike, the PI and Robin his 'temporary' secretary are wonderful characters; a good series, while needing an intricate mystery, mostly needs main characters you like and want to cheer for. I liked Cormoran, but I really liked Robin! She lands this temporary job for a down on his luck PI, (do any PIs have their life together?) and it turns out to have been her secret perfect job. She tries to make herself indispensable while Cormoran deals with his break-up and subtly lives in his office. The actual mystery was good - famous, adopted model falls to her death in an apparent suicide that her lawyer brother asks to have investigated. Lots of red herrings, but it felt solvable with the clues. I'll be looking for The Silkworm sooner rather than later.

Friday, July 1, 2016

UPDATE: summer

The weather is:

absolutely gorgeous! This past week is warm and sunny and makes a person believe in summer.

I am listening to:
assorted YA Sync Titles - finished The Sin-Eater's Daughter which I liked more and more as the story went along, so much so that I'd listen to the next in the series. Usually YA fantasy is not my cuppa, but some of the twists worked for me. Listening to 100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith

I am watching:
Big Brother just started - my summer crack. We also like watching America's Got Talent with the children.
I also just got a Netflix password (possibly the last person in the world) and I spent some time today browsing around and deciding what I want to watch.

I am reading:
Just finished Poppet by Mo Hayder, a creepy British police mystery. Just one more in this series, Wolf. Next up, The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith, aka JK Rowing.
I also finished reading all the final exams last week, which is the best feeling the the world.

Books Entering House:
I am very excited to read The Fireman by Joe Hill in July. A nice little sale, with free shipping made this book the perfect birthday present to myself. Plus, the #Firemanreadalong

Plans for summer:
Not much of anything. I live a simple life!

  • A few trips to the beach 
  • keeping my hanging basket of flowers alive
  • trying some new vegetarian meals for my daughter
  • eating out on some patio restaurants in downtown Charlottetown
  • family reunions on both sides 
  • reading and listening to books
  • watching both daughters play soccer (both girls) and softball (oldest girl)
  • spend some time at the cottage my sister and I share
  • Canada Day!