Tuesday, August 18, 2020

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Books I Loved But Didn't Review


I barely get anything watched on Netflix that I want to watch, let alone imagine what books should be turned into a movie, so this week's topic, Top Ten Books that Should be Made into a Movie isn't going to work for me. Instead, I'll catch up on last week's topic, Books I Loved But Didn't Review, and adapt it a bit to be the last Ten Canadian Books I Read by Didn't Review (and I loved half of them a lot)
I'm mostly a rule follower, but when I break, I break bad.
Top Ten Tuesday is hosted at That Artsy Reader Girl

Causeway: A Passage from Innocence by Linden MacIntyre
What a wonderfully written memoir! Set in Cape Breton, MacIntyre, a Canadian journalist, recounts his childhood, framed by the building of the Canso Causeway, which connected mainland Nova Scotia to Cape Breton in 1955. From the chronic poverty life of Cape Breton, to his somewhat difficult relationship with his father, MacIntyre does a great job of blending the large world with his small life. I was looking up information (Angus L MacDonald, now known as a Halifax Bridge but was once a premier) to realizing that in such a short time how the Gaelic language has disappeared (MacIntyre's grandmother only spoke Gaelic). I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Plus, I learned he is married to Carol Off, a CBC journalist. 

Easy Prey by Catherine Lo
This was a YA book through YA Sync, the free summer audiobook program. I don't always love YA books, and most of this summer's have been okay, but not great. Sometimes they focus too much on fantasy or witches, and sometimes they don't focus at all, trying to cover too much territory and ideas. So after a few YA books that seemed all over the place, I was very pleased with Easy Prey, which also happened to be set in Canada. Easy Prey is about a teacher who gets outed on social media with inappropriate photos and the three students who are suspected of posted the pictures.
Catherine Lo did a fabulous job of plotting and characters and dealing with the timely issue of cyber crimes. When I finished, I thought, That was a great book!

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood
It's been a very, very long time since I read The Handmaid's Tale (published in 1986) and I haven't watched the series on television but I still remember the main points of the story, so decided to go ahead and listen to Atwood's latest volume. I am always so surprised at how readable her books are. She is so lauded and recognized as literature, that I expect more ephemeral writing, but it is very accessible. This book jumps around in time and characters a lot, and it wasn't always clear (in audio) when things were happening, but I just went along for the ride, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Her plotting was excellent, and how everything came together at the end was well worth the listen. 
Don't get pulled in by the fact that is says Margaret Atwood is one of the readers. She only dramatically intones the chapter breaks, lol.

The Innocents by Michael Crummey
This was another well written, thoroughly engrossing read. Set in an isolated outport in rural Newfoundland in the late 1800s, what might happen if the parents of two young children died. leaving them to survive on their own? This is that tale. While they have more contact with the outside world that you would expect, they are isolated for much of their lives, struggling to survive in the most inhospitable setting imaginable. Crummey takes the reader along as the brother and sister grow and survive and, somehow, beautifully, tells their tale.

The Answer Is... Reflections on My Life by Alex Trebek

Like Martin Short and Chris Hadfield before him, Trebek tells his thoroughly Canadian memoir of happiness and positivity. My husband and I have been Jeopardy fans since we first met in university, watching at 1 pm, and trying to catch final jeopardy before running across campus to get to a 1:30 pm chemistry lab. The Jeopardy prime time special in January with Ken, James and Brad was the best show of the winter, and all summer, Jeopardy has been 'opening the vaults' to some classic episodes. (OMG, Chuck! I forgot about Chuck!) With Alex's cancer announcement, Jeopardy has taken on new specialness knowing there is an end coming. This memoir is delightful and Alex is full of appreciation and positivity about his life. Nothing too dramatic at all happens, and even if it did, Alex  chalks it up to stuff happens in life and you have to get over it. Don't read this if you are looking of gossip or dirt, but do read it to get a peek at an awesome, kind man who is just what he seems.

When We Were Vikings by Andrew David MacDonald
Narrated by a neuro-atypical girl, this book could have ventured into too cuteness, but the world of Zelda and her older brother Gert is a little to real and violent to be mushy. Orphans, Zelda and Gert are looking out for each other as best they can. Zelda has Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and is pretty high functioning but needs lot of rules for life to work for her. Her brother is trying to stay in college but has to look out for Zelda at the same time. Drug dealing ensues. If you liked The Rosie Project, or The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, I recommend Vikings. I liked, but didn't love, all of them.

An Irish Doctor in Love and at Sea AND
An Irish Doctor In Peace and at War
by Patrick Taylor

Since I discovered listening to this series and my library has all of them, I try to fit a couple in each summer. They are surprisingly long but very easy listening. Doctor Fingal Flaherty O'Reily continues on his tale of life in 1960s Northern Ireland, superimposed on his memories from the 1930s. He is up to his wartime service in the past, but it is the present world with Donal Donally, and Bertie Bishop and all the characters of Bally-Buckle-Bo that I really enjoy. 

The End of Her by Shari Lapena
Lapena is known for her suspenseful books. I am finding her hit and miss and the more I read of her, the more the same the books feel. I've listened to most of her books, and maybe this kind of suspense works better on the printed page, because I argue back continuously with the narrator in the audiobooks. If you have liked her previous books, you will probably like this one as well. 

The Elephants in My Backyard by Rajiv Surendra

This was a cute memoir by actor Rajiv Surendra (known for his role in Mean Girls as the rap-mathlete) as he tries to attain the role he feels he was meant to play - the boy in The Life of Pi by Yann Martel. Once he discovers the book he loved is being made into a movie, he does all he can to prepare for the role. Luckily it took several years for the movie to get made, so he had lots of time to prepare. He goes to India, he learns to swim, he studies religions, and in the meantime, attends college in Toronto and acts in some other jobs. This memoir was fine, but it is always difficult to have enough material and perspective to write a memoir in your twenties.