Friday, December 6, 2019

VIRTUAL ADVENT TOUR: A Little Sparkly


Welcome to my turn posting on the Virtual Advent Tour! I've been a part of the Virtual Advent since I started blogging, back in 2007. It's a part of blogging, and Christmas that I look forward to.

As an update from the Advent Calendar post about Advent Calendars from last year, I found a cheese advent calendar for my husband and I to enjoy. Each evening we share the cheese and maybe a cracker or two on the countdown til the 25th. Oldest child, 22, has a Lindt chocolate advent calendar, middle child, 19, has a Hello Kitty Opi mini nail polish advent calendar, and youngest, 16 has a homemade (Bulk Barn) full of nuts and dark chocolate wafers. We've come a long way from the single calendar my sister and I used to share.

One of the things I like about Christmas is taking the extra effort to fancy things up.

So it's the time of year when I put some icing on the cookies, or make cookies that require rolling, and then coating in something extra or putting the maraschino cherry on the ginger cookie.

Decorating around the house and outside, and bringing out some fancy dishes to serve some h'ordoeuvres. Heck, even making the h'ordoeuvres in the first place is a step up and represents the extra effort, like the year I made Sprite's grandmother's Mushroom Turnovers. Yum!

This year, as an extra sparkly effort, I had my daughter, the aspiring esthetician, paint my nails. It is actually homework for her in her course to practice painting nails often. So I requested a Christmas red, with a bit of sparkle for the Christmas season. My accent nail has a layer of silver sparkle and I am all ready for some Christmas events.


Do you do extra things at Christmas to sparkle up your life?

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Holiday Reads

Winter is starting early here in PEI, and I've been feeling Christmas-y as a result. I have actually already read a Holiday book or two. There are plenty of great seasonal books that I've read, and some I would like to read. Check out the links to all the Top Ten Tuesday posts at That Artsy Reader Girl, and also check out the future topics.

Also in the holiday season, sprite writes is hosting the Virtual Advent Tour again this year. It is a wonderful way for sharing your holiday traditions, or songs, or ideas, really, anything you like. Sprite links it all up at her blog, and everyday there is a new post. There is lots of days to sign up for, so head to Sprite's to check out the details. I'm on tap for December 6th, and I've participated in the Advent Tour for a long, long time. It's one of my favourite Christmas (or your holiday) traditions. One year, I wrote about the Christmas books by Anne Perry, and another year, I focused on the Christmas editions of my favourite mystery series'.


My True Love Gave to Me (twelve holiday stories by young adult authors)
I've had this one I've had for a while from the library, and I am slowing reading the stories. I can't wait to get to the Jenny Han story as I've read her To All the Boys series throughout this year, and they are delightful.



A Christmas Message by Anne Perry
I've read many of Perry's Christmas novellas, as she has come up with a great concept - using minor characters from her Charlotte and Thomas Pitt Victorian police mystery series, stand-alone mysteries occur at Christmas. They are light, with characters that are somewhat familiar. This was my least favourite of the bunch, as much was set in Bethlehem, and there was too much religion and philosophy for my taste, not enough murder, although there was one murder. I'll still listen to or read another in this series, as they are quite short, but I hope the next one I read is better.



Alaskan Holiday by Debbie Macomber
I read this holiday book last year, and it was my first Macomber book ever. Sadly, probably my last, as I spent most of the book being annoyed by the characters and the gaping plot points. But to be fair, I don't read a lot of romance books for exactly this reason, and it was kinda fun to yell at the characters, like a Hallmark Christmas movie. It was alternately narrated by a male and female, and one of the voices did an annoying voice for the 'comic' character, which didn't help. Oh well, now I don't have to read any more Macomber books, and she is very prolific!


Christmas on the Island by Jenny Colgan
Now this was a great Christmas read from last year. I picked this up at Indigo last year, purely based on the pretty cover and the simple description. I'm sure it had nothing to do with me living on an Island as well! This was set on an island off Scotland, and is part of a series (yay!) by an author who writes a nice, character driven style of book, reminding me of Maeve Binchy. Not a romance, not a mystery, just a nice story. I haven't read another Colgan book, but I definitely will.


Almost Midnight by Rainbow Rowell
Here's another book I read last year. A nice, easy read, these Two Festive Short Stories by Rainbow Rowell were very cute. One of them is actually in My True Love Gave to Me, my book from this year. I loved Eleanor & Park by Rowell,

Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle
This is now a Netflix movie that I haven't seen yet, but I never mind taking the opportunity to recommend this delightful book. Each author wrote a short story, but the three stories are all connected in some way. It has been a long time since I read this, but it left a positive impression on me.

Here's a few new books on my radar:


Christmas Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella
I was just noticing that I haven't read a Sophie Kinsella book in a long time, and once upon a time I read her new books as soon as they came out. This appears to be the lastest in the Shopaholic series, and I think I might have missed a couple. Kinsella books are so much fun, and I want to get back to reading her delightful books.


Christmas at the Vinyl Cafe by Stuart McLean
I didn't realize this book was newly published, containing five never published Christmas stories? Dave Cooks the Turkey is one of the funniest stories ever! It's hard to believe that it has been almost three years since Stuart McLean died, but at least his writing lives on.

We Met in December by Rosie Curtis
What is it about the British and their Christmas stories? This looks like it could have been one of the plot lines from Love, Actually, which is one of my favourite Christmas movies.
"Following a year in the life of a twenty-something British woman who falls hard for her London flat mate"

That's it for books from this year and last, and a few potential Christmas books. Here's a post I did last year of some of my favourite Christmas books. Some pretty awesome reads on that list!






Sunday, December 1, 2019

NONFICTION NOVEMBER: New to My TBR (week 5)



Week 5: (Nov. 25 to 29) – New to My TBR (Rennie of What’s Nonfiction): It’s been a month full of amazing nonfiction books! Which ones have made it onto your TBR? Be sure to link back to the original blogger who posted about that book

Another successful Nonfiction November in the books. I didn't get exploring other sites as much as I would have liked, but I did take notice of a few books that look interesting. A few were ones I was wondering about, but getting a rec from the bloggers is just the nudge needed to add the book to the ole TBR list.


Histories by Sam Gugliani  found at Rather Too Fond of Books             
Histories was the fiction book paired with Breaking and Mending by Joanna Cannon, which also looks good. Both are set in hospitals with Histories being interconnected short stories all set in a hospital and Breaking and Mending being a memoir of a junior doctor. I read Five Patients by Michael Crichton many, many years ago and loved it. Crichton would go on to create the great medical drama, ER.




Bad Science books found at Whatsnonfiction:

The Angry Chef: Bad Science and the Truth about Healthy Eating by Chef Anthony Warner

Bad Science: Quacks, Hacks, and Big Pharma Flacks, by Ben Goldacre 

I've seen Bad Science listed before, and I still want to read it. Having it paired with another science book related to healthy eating makes it sound even better.







Truth and Beauty: A Friendship by Ann Patchett (from mindjoggle )

I  listened to two Ann Patchett books this year, and both were very good - Commonwealth, and The Dutch House. Years ago I read Bel Canto, and State of Wonder, and I am realizing that Patchett is an excellent author - solid, interesting reads. So being reminded that Patchett has a nonfiction book was timely.








Identical Strangers: A Memoir of Twins Separated and Reunited by Paula and Elyse ( from thefictionaddiction )

I watched the movie on CNN about the triplets separated in New York who then eventually meet as late teenagers. It's a great movie, that turns more and more horrific and the details are all revealed. So a book following the same type of story would be very fascinating to read. Why are twins so intesting?





Three Women  by Lisa Taddeo  (from novelvisits )

I've seen Three Women on my audiobook libary, and so reading a great review moves it up the list a little bit. It also has a long lineup at the library, also a good sign of a popular book.








Inheritance: A Memoir of Geneology, Paternity, and Love by Dani Shapiro (from Sara's Bookshelves )

Similar to the separated twins idea, Inheritance is about the author finding out about who her father was.






Friday, November 22, 2019

NONFICTION NOVEMBER: Lit Hub's Top Twenty Nonfiction Books of the Decade


I wanted to do another Nonfiction November post, but didn't get one done for this week's prompt. I also didn't get any of the un-reviewed nonfiction books reviewed like I had hoped I might. Instead, I found this list of the best nonfiction books from this decade. Yes, the teens are nearly over, and it is time for some retrospectives on, I'm sure, all kinds of topics.



Top Twenty Nonfiction Books of the Last Decade

Literary Hub posted a bunch of best books of the decade (poetry, memoirs, translated, debut, overall best) lists over here, and I do enjoy a list. I've taken the nonfiction list and posted it here, with my comments based on whether I loved it or not, or whether it was already a book on my radar that I wanted to read. Let me know what you think - agree? disagree?  Lists provide lots of debate fodder. Also, any on here you recommend?

πŸ’ - books I want to read
πŸ’–- books I also loved
πŸ‘Ή - books I read but didn't love


MICHELLE ALEXANDER, THE NEW JIM CROW (2010)

SIDDHARTHA MUKHERJEE, THE EMPEROR OF ALL MALADIES (2010) πŸ’

REBECCA SKLOOT, THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS (2010) πŸ’–

TIMOTHY SNYDER, BLOODLANDS (2010)

ISABEL WILKERSON, THE WARMTH OF OTHER SUNS: THE EPIC STORY OF AMERICA’S GREAT MIGRATION (2010)

ROBERT A. CARO, THE PASSAGE OF POWER: THE YEARS OF LYNDON JOHNSON (2012)

TOM REISS, THE BLACK COUNT: GLORY, REVOLUTION, BETRAYAL, AND THE REAL COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO (2012)

ELIZABETH KOLBERT, THE SIXTH EXTINCTION (2014)

TA-NEHISI COATES, BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME (2015)

ANDREA WULF, THE INVENTION OF NATURE (2015) πŸ’

STACY SCHIFF, THE WITCHES (2015) πŸ‘Ή

SVETLANA ALEXIEVICH, TR. BELA SHAYEVICH, SECONDHAND TIME (2016)

JANE MAYER, DARK MONEY (2016)

DAVID FRANCE, HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE (2016)

ANDRÉS RESÉNDEZ, THE OTHER SLAVERY (2016)

REBECCA TRAISTER, ALL THE SINGLE LADIES (2016) πŸ’

CAROLINE FRASER, PRAIRIE FIRES (2017) πŸ’

DAVID W. BLIGHT, FREDERICK DOUGLASS: PROPHET OF FREEDOM (2018

ROBERT MACFARLANE, UNDERLAND (2019) πŸ’

PATRICK RADDEN KEEFE, SAY NOTHING: A TRUE HISTORY OF MEMORY AND MURDER IN NORTHERN IRELAND (2019)


the ones who almost made the list

MAGGIE NELSON, THE ART OF CRUELTY: A RECKONING (2011)

Γ“SCAR MARTINEZ, THE BEAST (2013)

MATTHEW DESMOND, EVICTED (2016)

YURI SLEZKINE, THE HOUSE OF GOVERNMENT (2017)

RICHARD LLOYD PARRY, GHOSTS OF THE TSUNAMI (2017)

JENNY ODELL, HOW TO DO NOTHING (2019)


























honourable mentions:
Peter Hessler, Country Driving (2010) · 
Ron Chernow, Washington: A Life (2010) · 
Barbara Demick, Nothing to Envy (2010) · 
Marina Warner, Stranger Magic (2012) · 
Jon Meacham, Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power (2012) · 
Oscar Martinez, The Beast (2013) · 
Katherine Boo, Behind the Beautiful Forevers (2013) · πŸ’–
Mary Ruefle, Madness, Rack, and Honey (2013) · 
David Epstein, The Sports Gene (2013) · 
Sheri Fink, Five Days at Memorial (2013) · 
David Finkel, Thank You for Your Service (2013) · 
George Packer, The Unwinding (2013) · 
Naomi Klein, This Changes Everything (2013) · 
Roxanne Dunbar-Oritz, An Indigenous People’s History of the United States (2014) · 
Sarah Ruhl, 100 Essays I Don’t Have Time to Write (2014) · 
Olivia Laing, The Trip to Echo Spring (2014) · 
Hermione Lee, Penelope Fitzgerald (2014) · 
Mary Beard, SPQR (2015) · 
Sam Quinones, Dreamland (2015) · 
Ibram X. Kendi, Stamped From the Beginning (2016) · 
Ruth Franklin, Shirley Jackson (2016) · 
Arlie Russell Hochschild, Strangers In Their Own Land (2016) · 
Margot Lee Shetterly, Hidden Figures (2016) · πŸ’
Laura Dassow Walls, Henry David Thoreau: A Life (2017) · 
David Grann, Killers of the Flower Moon (2017) · πŸ’–
Elizabeth McGuire, Red at Heart (2017) ·
 Frances FitzGerald, The Evangelicals (2017) · 
Jeff Guinn, The Road to Jonestown (2017) · 
Michael Tisserand, Krazy (2017) · 
Lawrence Jackson, Chester Himes (2017) · 
Zora Neale Hurston, Barracoon (2018) · 
Beth Macy, Dopesick (2018) · 
Shane Bauer, American Prison (2018) · 
Eliza Griswold, Amity and Prosperity (2018) · 
David Quammen, The Tangled Tree (2018).

Thursday, November 14, 2019

NONFICTION NOVEMBER: Be the Expert (week 3)




Week 3: (Nov. 11 to 15) – Be The Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert (Katie at Doing Dewey): Three ways to join in this week! You can either share 3 or more books on a single topic that you have read and can recommend (be the expert), you can put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that you have been dying to read (ask the expert), or you can create your own list of books on a topic that you’d like to read (become the expert)




Physics Biographies and Memoirs
I've chosen to highlight some physics related biographies or memoirs. The ones I've selected are good reads and written in a way that is not dry or boring. I recommend!
Let me know if there are other great physics biographies I should read!


Force of Nature by Richard Reeves
The story of Ernest Rutherford was a read from this year was good. I loved all the connections between the great physicists of the early 1900s. Just imagining the excitement in the physics world as so much was being discovered made the book worthwhile for me.


Surely You're Joking Mr Feynman by Richard Feynman
Richard Feynman was a real character and this is a collection of his stories. He's well known for popularizing physics, and his ability to tell a great story. There are several books by Feynman, and any of them are probably good reads.


e=mc2 by David Bodanis
Not a biography of any person, it is the biography of Einstein's famous equation, E=mc^2. Each component gets a chapter, and background information. Fascinating stuff!
(I tried another Bodanis book this year which was disappointing, but I think it was still interesting and well written, it just didn't cover the information that I was expecting, so I won't put it on him - it was me)



Zap: Nicola Tesla Takes Charge
Although this is a children's book, any book that discusses Nicola Tesla is going to be a winner. This would just whet your appetite for stories of the crazy inventor Tesla, but it would be a gateway book to Tesla. I'm still looking for adult book about Tesla. I've read a fictional book which was really good - Last Days of Night by Graham Moore which was a great mystery but I'd like another Tesla title - fiction or nonfiction.


Finding Wonders by Jeannine Atkins
Technically a fictional book, the information in this blank verse account of three female scientists is fabulous! My favourite book from 2017. 

Related - Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science by Rachel Swaby. More traditional biographies than Finding Wonders, great intro to all those women scientists you've probably never heard of.



An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth by Col Chris Hadfield
And finally, Col Chris Hadfield, and real life hero/good guy with his memoir/guide to life. The more you read about Hadfield, the more impressive his is. We are so proud of him here in Canada, and this book is an inspirational read of following your dreams and having everything pay off, through all your hard work and planning. 


Monday, November 4, 2019

NONFICTION NOVEMBER: Book Pairing (week 2)





Week 2: (Nov. 4 to 8) – Book Pairing (Sarah of Sarah’s Book Shelves): This week, pair up a nonfiction book with a fiction title. It can be a “If you loved this book, read this!” or just two titles that you think would go well together. Maybe it’s a historical novel and you’d like to get the real history by reading a nonfiction version of the story.


I'm going to cheat a little bit here, because these two books were offered together during the summer from YA Sync. They really go well together! I liked the history and background behind Reagan's famous 'Tear Down this Wall' speech, but the fictional account of a family separated when the wall was built, separating East and West Berlin, and the subsequent fall out of a family divided was very powerful.



Tear Down This Wall: A City, A President, and the Speech that Ended the Cold War by Romesh Ratnesar
In 1987, Ronald Reagan gave his famous speech to Mr Gorbachev and very quickly, the wall did come down and life in Berlin (East and West) changed. This (a little too long) nonfiction book looks into the situations that led up to the speech. For people of a certain age who remember the 1980s, this book will bring back those times. For younger readers, this would be a great historical record of a significant event that led to the end of the Cold War.


A Night Divided by Jennifer A Nielsen
I really enjoyed this novel following a single family whose life was completely changed the night the Berlin Wall was built. The father and brother had gone across the city to look for work the night the wall was built, separating the family of five. The mom, brother and main character daughter were left in East Berlin. Years later, the daughter sees her father on the other side, and realizes he is trying to send a message - they should dig a tunnel to West Berlin. Seeing life in East Berlin, how citizens had to survive, worrying about betrayals, and worrying about who to trust, was very well done. This is why I really like historical fiction - it allows the reader to see a moment in time, with characters that are easy to relate to. 

Any other good Cold War fiction/nonfiction reads that would compliment these two?

Monday, October 28, 2019

NONFICTION NOVEMBER: Your Year in Nonfiction



Week 1: (Oct. 28 to Nov. 1) – Your Year in Nonfiction (Julz of Julz Reads): Take a look back at your year of nonfiction and reflect on the following questions – What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year? Do you have a particular topic you’ve been attracted to more this year? What nonfiction book have you recommended the most? What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?

The Look Back:
So far this year, I've read 25 non-fiction books, and I rate 9 of them at 4.5 stars out of 5 - very good reads. I just remembered! I need to consider NF books read in December of last year that got missed in the November review last year, so let's add 4 more books to the list.


29 Nonfiction books
10 Audiobooks
15 Female authors


What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year?  lol, I can't pick one, here's 8


Murder at McDonalds - Phonse Jessome
In the early 1990s, a McDonalds in Sydney River, Cape Breton was robbed, and three of the workers were killed. It turned out to be 3 local boys, and the community was shocked, to say the least. I remember this happening, and really enjoyed the account written by the local reporter who was just getting started when this horrific crime happened. 




Bad Blood - John Carryrou

The story of the biggest Silicon Valley scam was unbelievable. Elizabeth Holmes, founder of Therano, is a very compelling figure and after reading this book, you will be looking for more info - there is a podcast, The Dropout to check out. 


Force of Nature: The Frontier Genius of Ernest Rutherford by Richard Reeves
Biography of the New Zealand half of the Bohr-Rutherford model, I really liked the excitement of the physics discoveries happening in the first half of the 20th century. A visit to Rutherford's research room at McGill university is on my list of 'things to see' in Montreal.



Everything Bad is Good for You: How Today's Popular Culture is Actually Making Us Smarter by Steven Johnson
Steven Johnson makes my 'best of NF' list once again. Everything Bad wasn't quite as excellent as The Ghost Map, but it was a fascinating, well argued read. 



Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach
Mary Roach does such a great job of digging into some very interesting aspects of science and putting them together in a dry, amusing way. This one follows the digestive system, and highlights some very obscure research being done. 



Educated by Tara Westover

Was this even real? A view into an aspect of off-grid, anti-government lifestyles in America, Tara Westover has to overcome her family and poverty to get an education.


Gathering Moss by Robin Wall Kimmerer

When an author has a passion for a topic, it really doesn't matter what the topic is, it will be interesting. Kimmerer is a moss expert, and her appreciation and the connections she makes between moss and many other things, was fascinating. I notice moss so much now on my walks.

Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology by Leah Remini
I've been watching all the Scientology programs by Leah Remini and Mike Rinder on television so I knew I had to read Remini's memoir, and I was not disappointed. Her rough life in Scientology as a teenager, the Hollywood behind the scenes, and her growing disillusionment with the important people in Scientology, culminating at Tom Cruise's wedding to Katie Holmes in Italy.



Do you have a particular topic you’ve been attracted to more this year?
Last year, one of my favourite non-fiction books was I'll Be Gone Before the Dark by Michelle McNamara and it seems to have inspired a good portion of my non-fiction reading  this year as True Crime leads my list of nonfiction reads for the year.

The Dark Heart:  A True Story of Greed, Murder, and an Unlikely Investigator - Joakim Palmkvist (ebook)
The Case of Madeleine Smith - Rick Geary (graphic novel)
The Boy on the Bicycle - Nate Hendley

and crime-related - 
The Library Book by Susan Orleans (based around the LA fire of 1985)
The Threat by Andrew McCabe, (based on the FBI, and threat assessment)
Run Hide Repeat by Pauline Dakin (based on her childhood on the run)



What nonfiction book have you recommended the most?
I guess it depends on who you are. My science teacher friends get Gulp, Force of Nature, and Gathering Moss. But I have recommended all the the eight above at various times to various people this year. 

What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?

I like looking back and remembering some great reads, getting some books reviewed, and then reading other posts and getting a verified list of great books to look for next year!


The List December 2018
147. No One Tells You This - Glynnis MacNicol 
148. The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness - Sy Montgomery (audiobook)
150. Harry's Last Stand - Harry Leslie Smith (ebook)
154. Mission to Pluto: The First Visit to an Ice Dwarf and the Kuiper Belt - Mary Kay Carson

January - November 2019
7. *Bad Blood - John Carryroo πŸŽ§

18. The Library Book - Susan Orlean πŸŽ§
20. Force of Nature: The Frontier Genius of Ernest Rutherford - Richard Reeves

26. Brown Girl Dreaming - Jacqueline Woodson πŸŽ§
27. Murder at McDonald's: The Killers Next Door - Phonse Jessome  (ebook)
 
28. Run Hide Repeat - Pauline Dakin  

35. The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump - Andrew G McCab🎧

42. The Princess Diarist - Carrie Fisher πŸŽ§
47. Electric Universe: The Shocking True Story of Electricity - David Bodanis

53. Educated - Tara Westover (ebook)
59. District Nurse: My Life as a Nurse in the 1950s - Patricia Jordan

63. The Morningside World of Stuart McLean - Stuart McLean 
65. Everything Bad is Good for You: How Today's Popular Culture is Actually Making Us Smarter - Steven Johnson
69.  The Dark Heart: A True Story of Greed, Murder, and an Unlikely Investigator - Joakim Palmkvist (ebook)
73. Antonia and Her Daughters - Marlena De Blasi

79. Tear Down This Wall: A City, A President, and a Speech That Ended the Cold War - Romesh Ratnesar πŸŽ§
81. Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal - Mary Roach πŸŽ§
82. Lafayette in the Somewhat United States - Sarah Vowell 

87. Becoming Kareem: Growing Up On and Off the Court - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar πŸŽ§
90. Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers - Deborah Heiligman πŸŽ§ 
91. Death to All Sacred Cows - Beau Fraser πŸŽ§



94. The Case of Madeleine Smith - Rick Geary
95. Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology - Leah Remini
100. Gathering Moss - Robin Wall Kimmerer

116. Talking to Strangers - Malcolm Gladwell   πŸŽ§